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UCI EUROST 10 - Renaissance Art and Linear Perspective

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Professor Smith European Studies Department Europe Studies 10 European History Course Code: 24000 ● Renaissance Art and Linear Perspective ○ Issues we’ll be dealing with: ■ The emergence of a new technique in painting in the early 1400s it Italy, namely “linear perspective” ■ The significance of this development far beyond being a mere technique ■ It turned painting into a kind of “science”, it introduced a geometrical and mathematical nature, and it positioned the observer in a way that impacted the “modern subjects” ■ One way to see the significance of linear perspective will be to see how artists within a hundred to two hundred years both embraced it and started to play with it ■ We’ll look especially at the art of “anamorphosis”, paintings that worked with distortions of perspective and with repositioning the observer ● Timeline ○ We began the course with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation; early 16th century ○ We followed the consequences of this schism in Christianity through the years of conflict, concluding with the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the momentous Treaties of Westphalia that concluded it ○ Then we went back in time to the beginning of the 16th century again, but shifted location to Italy to discuss Machiavelli’s The Prince as the beginning of a systematic treatment of the study of political power ○ Now we’ll be staying it Italy but dealing mostly with an earlier period, the 15th century to explore the origins of “linear perspective” in Florence around 1425-1435 ● Where does this fit in? ○ We already saw in the discussion of Machiavelli that linear perspective in painting fits in with the kind of Italian Humanism that was a condition for Machiavelli ○ If pico della mirandolla and Machiavelli give to human beings the agency to shape their world and to adapt to a changing environment, we’ll see that precisely these issues are at the heart of the development of “linear perspective”, a radically new approach to painting and seeing that arose in the Italian Renaissance ○ Recall the Massacio painting of the Holy Trinity that located the viewer in an ideal position from which he/she could “reconstruct” a 3 dimensional space out of a 2-dimensional painting ● Reading Scholarly Research (vs. Primary Documents)○ So far, we’ve read basically primary texts, i.e., text written in the historical period we’re studying (Luther, Grimmelshausen, the Treaties of Westphalia, Machiavelli’s the Prince) ○ In those cases, our main goal is to locate them historically to understand the context or horizon within which they were contributing (in our case, a play of instability and stability) ○ But secondary documents are scholarly articles written basically in our time about the past ■ In this case, our reading strategy is different ○ Essays for school classes tend to be short and the thesis statements are at the end of the first paragraph and we strive to make it easy for our reader to quickly identify the main point of the argument ○ So, when we first look at a scholarly essay, or article, or book, it can be overwhelming at first to identify the thesis statement or point of the argument when there’s so much text ○ What is the author talking about? How did they come up with all this stuff? ○ What’s the main point of the argument and where do i find it? ● Finding the Argument ○ While it may seem like an overwhelming amount of text that’s filled with reference to names, places, time periods, and things you’ve never heard of, there are ways you can break down scholarly arguments to help you identify the main point, even when it’s not clearly labeled for you ■ A typical approach you might take is to follow a sequence of analyses: ● SCQA: ● Situation ● Complicaton ● Question ● Answer ● The Situation ○ An author’s thesis statement should respond to a question or issue that naturally flows out of a particular situation and context related to the issue he or she is exploring ○ When authors begin their argument, they usually don’t immediately begin by saying “in this paper, i will explore...”, instead an author will frequently begin by establishing for the reader what the conventional knowledge is surrounding their topic ○ This situation helps invite the reader into a context for what they are about to read ○ The situation also helps prepare the reader to begin asking the questions the author is hoping to answer ● Choosing the Situation ○ What is the situation of vision Edgerton chooses to give at the beginning of Chapter 1? ○ Does he begin by telling you about Florence and the historical situation in art? No ○ Does he begin by talking about renaissance theories of representation and painting? No○ Instead, he chooses to present to you a situation about vision and how human beings eyes work and how they perceive “raw form of images” ○ What does he tell you about eyes and vision ● The situation ○ “All human beings, both male and female of whatever race or ethnic heritage, have the same mechanically structured eyes, and, as far as the pure physics of vision are concerned, see identically” ○ Even when an individual’s vision does not function properly, we can often correct it through glasses or surgery so that vision becomes uniform again ○ Why are we able to do this? ○ Because we have “universal scientific laws of optical geometry, firs derived by the ancient Greek philosopher, Eucid” ○ “In other words, the healthy eyes of every normal person in the world perceive the same raw forms of images in the same perspective distance and size relationships just as the ancients demonstrated - that is, before the nurtured brain makes any psychological or ideological judgement as to their meaning” ○ What do you think edgerton means when he adds that it looks the same before “the nurtured brain makes any psychological or ideological judgement” about what the raw images mean? ○ He’s introducing a new element; vision is physically/physiological but also psychological and social ■ On the one hand, we all see the same; on the other, our seeing is influenced ● Railroad Tracks and Converging Lines ○ For example, Edgerton argues that every person in every culture has visually experienced “the apparent convergence of parallel edges of objects as they extend away from


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