Writers' Workshop for ARCH 531 / McGill University / School of Architecture / Fall 2012

Week Eight: Art, Architecture, and Forms of Cognition

 

 

 

 

 

Still from Roberto Rossellini’s The Age of Cosimo de Medici (1973)

 

In the fifteenth century, two sides of the artistic world were coming together: craft-related artistry and scholastic mathematics.  The joining of these two remains of crucial importance to understanding writers on art from the period.

Leon Battista Alberti, in his work On Painting (Della Pittura) from 1435 tells us that he wishes to borrow from the mathematician yet to be considered a painter: “I will take first from the mathematicians those things with which my subject is concerned.”[1]  He opposes sensate wisdom to pure mathematics when he states that “mathematicians measure with their minds alone the forms of things separated from all matter.”[2]  What matters for Alberti appears to be the appropriate application of material to the task at hand.

Additionally, a division between “real” and apparent properties becomes significant to the theoretician.  The painter should only be involved with apparent properties we are told: “the painter is concerned solely with representing what can be seen.”[3]  This position has its own logic however and is not arbitrary.  It allows us in particular to have something like a science of appearances.

Looking further into his writing please take a stance on his separation between form and matter.  What are the consequences of this division?  Can art become a form of knowledge?


[1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 43.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

13 responses

  1. petersburg

    On Painting (1435) written by humanist Leon Battista Alberti can undoubtedly be depicted as one of most very sensational works responsible of the elaboration of Renaissance Art. Inspirational analysis and guidance through his words as a true painter, Alberti let us remind how painting requires more than merely artistic skills and eyes in order to pursue the reproduction of the “as real as possible” onto cavas. In fact, his thoughts in this matter are inclined toward about physical observation and mathematic analysis. However, his approach is different in the sense that, unlike the way “mathematicians examine the form of things separated from matter, […] ‘since we wish the object to be seen, we will use a more sensate wisdom’ ”. [1]

    He thus does believe in the observation of both the form and the matter since the latter “must be located in space and light to be visible”. [2] This concept is further explained by the analysis on form as geometry, but also the matter as its appearance in its shape, its external form and its resulting colour and tonality influenced by the light and shadow, but also the changing effect of all these aspects and on proportion and size due to the “visual rays which carry […] the thing seen to the sense” [3] of the observer. These are conclusion of his observation and cognition; it is still all about art of what is visible and this book is first record of the art requiring knowledge.

    Alberti cleverly succeeds to make the link between artists and mathematicians whose interest is in the form, by bringing up the aspect of matter, a physical point of view. In fact, art has tended to imitate nature, the real, and physic comes play a big role in the understanding of the nature; a parallel can be drawn with Aristotle’s Physics (350 B.C.E) which might have been Alberti’s inspiration: “Obviously physical bodies contain surfaces and volumes, lines and points, and these are the subject-matter of mathematics.” [4]

    __________

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 19.

    [2] Ibid.

    [3] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 45.

    [4] Aristotle, Physics, trans. Hardie and Gaye (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 25.

    October 28, 2012 at 5:02 am

  2. reckon

    Alberti, in his text On Painting, is concerned with painting as both an artistic pursuit and as it relates to mathematics/intellect, a concept referred to as “la più grassa Minerva,” (Minerva as goddess of wisdom) meaning “the ability to reason sensually.” He explains notions of form and matter derived from Aristotle’s Physics, wherein matter refers to the physical and form to the mathematical.

    Alberti does indeed separate the two concepts to better understand them; he explains the theory of geometry from the point to the plane, he then elaborates that “as soon as the observer changes his position these planes appear larger, of a different outline or of a different colour.” [1]That is to say, Alberti’s studies are largely based on the standard with which he is familiar: that of man, or the observer, whose power of sight has the ability to distort the innate “form” of the plane. “Some qualities remain permanently on the plane in such a manner that they cannot be changed without altering the plane itself. Other qualities are such that, due to visual effects, they seem to change to the observer even though the plane remains the same.” [2]

    However, Alberti’s interests lie ultimately in the intersection rather than the separation of these two concepts of form and matter, the successful artist being one knowledgeable in geometry as well as sensate artistry. “Each plane contains in itself its pyramid of colours and lights. Since bodies are covered with planes, all the planes of a body seen at one glance will make a pyramid packed with as many smaller pyramids as there are planes.”[3] Thus, Alberti wishes to highlight form both as it relates to geometry and as it possesses physical, visual characteristics or matter derived from placement and lighting.

    Therefore, for the man knowledgeable in mathematics and art, art can be a form of knowledge. With a prior knowledge of the essential geometries of certain objects, man could observe a painting of such an object seen from a particular perspective in a particular light, and be able to recognize and determine other qualities of the object. Moreover, the artist, with his ability to stage and frame a particular scene, can influence what knowledge the observer will derive from his painting.

    [1] Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. Trans. by John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956]. p. 45.
    [2]Ibid. p. 44.
    [3]Ibid. p. 51.

    October 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

  3. labyrinth

    Throughout his writings, Alberti stresses that the goal of the artist is to recreate exactly what he sees: “No one would deny that the painter has nothing to do with things that are not visible. The painter is concerned solely with representing what can be seen” [1]. Thus, he dissects the visible world and instructs the reader on how to represent it by treating is as two entities, form and matter.

    Book One is concerned primarily with using mathematical techniques to produce form. But it is clear from the beginning that Alberti is presenting mathematics as a means to an end, a way of accurately recording visible reality, and not as the main objective of the painting. He carefully explains throughout the first book that he is only taking from mathematics what is necessary to produce great artwork. By understanding and using mathematical principles, the artist is able to correctly represent the form of the physical world on his canvas. Only then, through the use of matter, can he bring the painting to life.

    This alludes to Alberti’s intentions with his paintings. He describes in Book Two how art, if executed correctly, can be of a divine nature: “Painting contains a divine force which not only makes absent men present…but moreover makes the dead seem almost alive” [2]. It is his purpose to not only recreate the physical world, but to depict a living memory that captures the emotions, light, forms, and figures of the scene. It is through the skilled use of matter that the ephemeral nature of the scene is accurately depicted, but mathematics is the principle means through which the form, as it would be seen in real life, is recreated.

    [1] Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. Trans. by John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970. 43.
    [2] Ibid., 62.

    October 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm

  4. Trebuh

    Alberti explains through the book “On Painting” various mathematical concepts and their relation to art, as well as how these concepts can be used to illustrate function or utility. In his book, Alberti writes: “No one would deny that the painter had nothing to do with things that are not visible.” [1] Throughout the book, he emphasizes the idea that art requires more than artistic skills, which is not necessarily true today. More over, Alberti outlines basic concepts in mathematics and attempts to directly relate them to the forms of nature. The separation between form and matter is present, however Alberti is highlighting how matter influences form and how art can be perceived as a form of knowledge. I believe that form and matter were tightly linked and through this relationship one can learn a great deal about art forms from this period.

    To show that painting is more than only form, Alberti begins by defining the point and the line, which lead to his explanation about the plane. He later argues in book three that the study of the plane is the fundamental lesson for an artist: “First of all they should learn how to draw the outlines of the planes well. […] They should learn how to join the planes together.”[2] Specifically, Alberti explains how the appearance of a plane can change if we modify its angle or lines and conceives three categories of planes: “These are divided into three sorts. Some planes are flat, others are hollowed out, and others are swollen outward and are spherical. To these a fourth may be added which is composed of any two of the above.” [3] Alberti then clarifies how these conditions are relatable to things that already exist: the surface of water, an eggshell or the exterior of a column. The relationship between mathematics and objects helps to visualize what Alberti is describing. After explaining the different aspects of a plane, Alberti introduces two other concepts that can change the aspect of a plane: place and light. He elaborates his idea on how place and light can change the perception of the plane: “This has to do with the power of sight, for as soon as the observer changes his position these planes appear larger, of a different outline or a different color.” [4] Later, he classifies the rays into three categories to depict how the different types of rays have an impact when they hit a plane. The notions described by Alberti in book one have to do with vision and how nature can alter it, as well as the way in which this may help to understand composition and light. These notions are tightly linked with art since they help to convey and represent the artist’s intentions.

    It is mainly in book three that Alberti describes his preferred interests that a painter possess: “It would please me if the painter were as learned as possible in all the liberal arts, but first of all I desire that he know geometry.” [5] The understanding of geometry is important for Alberti since it helps to precisely convey an idea or setting. Alberti is convinced that in order to communicate an idea, you have to understand geometry and how to properly depict it: “Never take the pencil or brush in hand if you have not first constituted with your mind all that you have to do and how you have to do it.”[6] Art becomes a form of knowledge when it is used to convey a specific or accurate depiction of a place, figure, or event. In this way art conveys ideas, concepts and principles to those that observe it, which form the basis of knowledge. One example is Leonardo Da Vinci. His drawings are art forms and help to convey knowledge and further our understanding of various concepts. His illustrations for the book of Fra Luca Pacioli “Da Divina Proportione” were able to convey teachings and ideas about mathematics and physics. Art certainly has the ability to convey an idea and to broaden our understanding on a variety of subjects.

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), 43.

    [2] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), 92

    [3] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), 45.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), 90

    [6] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), 95

    October 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

  5. Petersburg acknowledges the complexity of the interchange between mathematical form and sensate wisdom. Reckon points to the importance of the intersection of the notions of matter and form as taking greater precedence over their separation. For Labyrinth, Alberti sees mathematics as a means to an end. Certainly this remains in line with Alberti’s suggestion that the “istoria” is the most important aspect of a painting. Trebuh makes an interesting analogy with Leonardo, suggesting that art is a communicative medium moving between mathematics and everyday life.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  6. Amalin

    To expand on the principles labyrinth put forward, Alberti also indicates that he would “like youths who first come to painting to do as those who are taught to write. We teach the latter first separately, showing all the forms of the letters which the ancients called elements. Then we teach the syllables, next we teach how to put together all the words. Our pupils ought to follow this rule in painting. First of all they should learn how to draw the outlines of the planes well.” [1] Alberti clearly articulates the importance of mathematics – or more precisely the importance of geometry in perspective – as a way of accurately recording reality in the painter’s artistic process. However, true knowledge for Alberti seems to lie in the convergence of both form and matter, and it is only when they are united that there may be genuine art – for art is only successful if it contains a narrative – plunging the viewer into the painting’s new imaginative reality. “The extent to which the painter can hold the “eyes and the soul of the observer” measures his effectiveness. The purpose of painting is to produce a vivid representation, not merely to reveal a perspective construction or its facsimile.” [2] The mathematics of the painting alone are not sufficient to convey a legitimate representation or “istoria”, and for this reason, “when discussing how to make an istoria Alberti says nothing about perspective; instead, he emphasizes the role of experience and of shop techniques and advises the artist to solicit the opinions of friends and of the man on the street.” [3]

    “In producing an “istoria” a painter is not investigating a source of knowledge but is conveying knowledge he has discovered. Alberti therefore emphasized first the investigation and then the production which conveys the discovered truths. The root of knowledge is in nature, Alberti tells us; it is in what we see there through systematic investigation using perspective, which is in its turn a form of intellectual knowledge based on mathematics. But investigation is only a preparation for painting.” [4] For Alberti, art becomes a form of knowledge when mathematical discoveries coincide and inform artistic methodology.

    1 Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. Trans., John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956], 92.
    2 Westfall, Carroll W., Painting and the Liberal Arts: Alberti’s View, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Oct. – Dec., 1969), 490.
    3 Ibid., 491.
    4 Ibid., 495.

    October 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

  7. Esiolé

    Alberti, in his book On Painting, starts off by stating that art and mathematics are strongly linked when one wants to paint and reproduce the world. He actually goes even further by associating the success of a painter with its knowledge of mathematics: “Furthermore, I would like that we be convinced, among ourselves, in fact, that he alone who will have learned impeccably not only the edges but also all properties of surfaces will become an excellent painter.” [1] However, he also states that there is a difference between apparent and real properties, and that “the painter is concerned solely with representing what can be seen.” [2] Thus, the inner properties of matter are completely detached of its form.

    However, I tend to disagree with this interpretation of matter and form. Even though there is a clear difference between both, I think that form cannot be dissociated of matter. By stating that the painter should only be interested in the representation of forms is not contradictory to the art of painting itself, for painting is an interpretation, a reproduction of the world – of matter. Hence, in order to represent matter correctly, a painter has to get away from the matter, that he will never be able to represent as matter. He can only paint the representation of matter, the perception he has of it, because he cannot actually reproduce the matter in itself. Only its form can be reproduced, and thus, form is the only thing that matters to the painter.

    Nevertheless, the form is not disconnected of the matter, it is anchored in it. The form can only exist because of its matter, and thus, a deep understanding of the matter, through science and mathematics, can enlighten the way you perceive the form. “And let one have no doubt that he who attempts to depict objects without a deep understanding of them will never become a good painter.” [3]

    My interpretation of Alberti’s text makes me think of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. In a way, aren’t the forms represented by the painter the shadows of the matter on the wall of the Cave? When one is in the Cave, he can only see the projection of what is going on outside, and thus, it becomes his reality. In the same way, the painter cannot reproduce the matter but only its form, which mirrors the real world, but is not the true reality.

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 43.
    [2] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 22.
    [3] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 43.

    October 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

  8. uncleremus89

    As announced in the prologue, Alberti dedicates the first book of On Painting to mathematics and the roots it provides to painting.

    “You will see three books; the first, all mathematics, concerning the roots in nature which are the source of this delightful and most noble art.” [40]

    The term ‘roots’ here is key to understanding what he is setting out to do: propose an approach to painting to be used by artists and students of art, through a mathematical genesis of composition. Keeping in mind that Alberti is writing, what is to his knowledge the first treatise on art, we should consider its structure as we do his Ten Books on Architecture, one piece not separate from the other but each contributing to a cohesive whole. An example of such cohesion (between mathematical theory and painting) is seen in Book Two, when he explains the usefulness of the veil in visualizing the components of a piece, described by his pyramid of vision.

    “Firstly, it always presents to you the same unchanged plane. Where you have placed certain limits, you quickly find the true cuspid of the pyramid. […] Finally, the veil will greatly aid you in learning how to paint when you see in it round objects and objects in relief. By these things you will be able to test with experience and judgement how very useful our veil can be to you” [69]

    Book one offers an interpretation of matter by means of form, broken down into pyramids and triangles of vision, affected by qualities of light and position. The separation, if considered as such, would seem apparent in book one, wherein he offers a mathematically based framework for understanding what is to be painted. However, this should be considered as an inductive process inherent to painting given his conclusion assuming the comprehension of his first book by artists.

    “I hope the reader will agree that the best artist can only be one who has learned to understand the outline of the plane and all its qualities. On the contrary, anyone who has not been most diligent in understanding what we have said up to this point will never be a good artist. Therefore, these intersections and planes are necessary things.” [59]

    Furthermore, the consequences of this division are to be considered within the frame of proposing a treatise on painting – addressed not to the uninitiated but rather to practicing artists, both young and old – as is proposed by Alberti in Book One. The reconciliation of this supposed division, is yet again seen when, at the beginning of Book Three, Alberti describes the importance of standing at the proper distance from the painting:

    “I say the function of the painter is this: to describe with lines and to tint with colour on whatever panel or wall is given him similar observed planes of any body so that at a certain distance and in a certain position from the centre they appear in relief, seem to have mass and to be lifelike.” [89]

    Finally, in Book Three, as Alberti describes the necessity of diligence, perseverance as well as familiarity with poets and other learned people. He leaves us with the possibility of art as being a form of knowledge, with the amount of knowledge depending on the social depth to which the artist tempts to go.

    [1]Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. Trans. John R. Spencer. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1956. P. 40

    [2] Ibid. p. 69

    [2] Ibid. p. 59

    [3] Ibid. p. 89

    October 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm

  9. somer

    In his book On Painting, Leon Battista Alberti explains the knowledge a painter should have in order to be a successful and ‘good painter’. Alberti describes the difference between form and matter as the difference between how mathematicians and painters understand things. Mathematicians are concerned with forms, shapes, and geometries that can represent principles in their minds. While artists strive to represent the matter of the observable world. Alberti combines both reasoning methods to discuss painting, taking an empirical approach using forms to explain how matter can be depicted more accurately.
    Art can be a form of knowledge depending on how it is understood. In the first book he describes “All knowledge of large, small; long, short; high, low; broad, narrow; clear, dark; light and shadow and every similar attribute is obtained by comparison”. Knowledge can be gained from a painting through the comparison of the objects depicted and the reality of the objects. Alberti emphasizes the fact that all we know we learn from nature and particularly the human body. By painting a person into a scene the scales automatically become understandable through comparison. Albetti explains his process of painting through the use of mathematics and scale of the human body, “First of all about where I draw. I inscribe a quadrangle of right angles, as large as I wish, which is considered to be an open window through which I see what I want to paint. [41] Here I determine as it pleases me the size of the men in my picture.”[1] By Alberti’s use of human scale in painting paired with the geometries of perspective, art becomes a portal for viewers to have some insight and gain knowledge of mathematics.

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966)

    October 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm

  10. VDSY

    I think that one on the major key to understand this separation of form and matter can be highlighted from the introduction of this assignment: « two sides of the artistic world were coming together: craft-related artistry and scholastic mathematics.»

    Throughout the treatise On Painting (Della Pittura), Leon Battista Alberti is referring to artists, prior to his time, and he highlights the ways in which they understood means of depicting important elements for the comprehension of istoria; his notion of the narrative in painting, the higher aims of the art. The references to the importance of the mathematics, specifically to the geometry, are precisely done to bring new elements in the pursuit of the perfection of the art. In order to bring the istoria to life in the painting, the painter must have the skills to observe and to understand the nature and the world around: « […] the best artist can only be one who has learned to understand the outline of the plane and all its qualities. […] There remains to teach the painter how to follow with his hand what he has learned with his mind.»[1] Referring to the construction of the perspective, the pyramid of vision and all the notion of the planes, painters should be equipped to construct a space and then a composition to support the istoria.

    Alberti continues in the steps: «[…], we determine more clearly the colors and qualities of the planes. Since every difference in them is born from light, we can properly call their representation the reception of light. Therefore, painting is composed of circumscription, composition and reception of light.»[2] The detachment of the form from the matter in painting is really important in the notion of the representation of light and colors on the planes. Disregarded from the substance, the matter, Alberti states, in the representation of the nature in paintings, that the differences are «born» from the light. In most of his work, Alberti writes about the importance of the lights, the gradient of colors, the shadows and the way their play support the istoria. As much as the importance of the representation of the man in the paintings, or the animals and every elements in the composition, the colors and the light, refers to the tools of the painter. The notions that Alberti takes from the mathematicians, when he states that they «[…] measure with their minds alone the forms of things separated from all matter.»[3] support his idea of the planes, creating the «circumscriptions» of the planes with lines, separated from the matter, but in painting, directly linked with the representation of lights and colors.

    In this idea of two worlds coming together, Alberti is giving means, with the mathematics and the geometry by their abstraction of the reality «the matter», to represent the nature and understand the relations of light, shading, colors and shadows through the comprehension of form « planes» composed together. He bridged both worlds to foster the development of painting.

    [1]Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. Trans. John R. Spencer. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1956. P. 59

    [2] Ibid. p. 68

    [3] Ibid. p. 43

    October 31, 2012 at 2:02 am

  11. UVN

    A large portion of Book I from Alberti’s Della Pittura is dedicated to an elaboration of the technicalities, or mathematics, of drawing. A true painter must first discern its subject, contemplating the relationships between its points, lines, planes and shapes: “The best artist can only be one who has learned to understand the outline of the plane and all its qualities. […] Here I have related only the basic instructions of the art, and by instructions I mean that which will give the untrained painter the first fundamentals of how to paint well. […] Never let it be supposed that anyone can be a good painter if he does not clearly understand what he is attempting to do.” [1] This is indicative of his perception of mathematics and geometry as part of the fundamentals (but not the sole requirement) to understanding a subject, since art in itself is but a mere interpretation of reality. Alberti seems to draw from Aristotle, who, in his Physics, theorized interpretation of reality through form: “Obviously physical bodies contain surfaces and volumes, lines and points, and these are the subject-matter of mathematics.” [2] Therefore, art, a reinterpretation of reality by the depiction of its apparent properties, is the manifestation of the painter’s subjective knowledge and analysis of this reality.

    However, Alberti later elaborates on the painter’s second characteristic, which consists in his adeptness with matter and his connection with the physical: “There remains to teach the painter how to follow with his hand what he has learned with his mind.” [3] He defines the artist as both a mathematician who first understands the reality of his subject through abstract elements – points, lines, planes – and as a carpenter who then deals with the physicality and the sensuous depiction of the mind’s reality. Like Aristotle, he sees the painter as having a dual responsibility of studying his subject mathematically, through form, as well as physically, through matter: “The arts, therefore, which govern the matter and have knowledge are two, namely the art which uses the product and the art which directs the production of it. That is why the using art also is in a sense directive; but it differs in that it knows the form, whereas the art which is directive as being concerned with production knows the matter.” [4]

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 58.
    [2] Aristotle, Physics, trans. Hardie and Gaye (1930), II-2-1.
    [3] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 58.
    [4] Aristotle, Physics, trans. Hardie and Gaye (1930), II-2-13.

    October 31, 2012 at 3:55 am

  12. Esiolé made a very interesting parallel between Alberti’s stance on painting and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I believe that we can draw from this what kind of knowledge Alberti embeds in the art of drawing. The whole book consists in rules for painting, but most of them are given an explanation for, either mathematical or historical. As such, these rules are not merely derived from a caprice, but rather attempt to describe in the best possible way the reality with most exactitude, which assumes a structure of the world very much like the one of Plato’s Cave, where the realms of the Forms exists, but of which we can only see projected shadows. Following the parallel, in his book Della Pittura, Alberti is akin to the philosopher who has seen the true light of the sun and when back in the caves tries to teach what he has learned. While Plato suggests that such a person would never be understood by the inhabitants of the Cave, Alberti very much tries to keep his rules simple enough so that anyone could follow them—“the learned and the unlearned alike”[1]. When he states however that the painter “is concerned solely with representing what can be seen”[2], he’s dismissing that painting can become a deeper form of knowledge, yet later on he states that in order to properly draw the skin, one has to know where the bones and flesh are, as when drawing clothing one has to draw the nude beneath first. This contradiction reveals an desire to constrain the realm of this knowledge to the projections present in the real world, yet the necessity of knowing how things work in order to draw them properly opens painting to a much deeper—or following the Allegory, higher—form of knowledge.

    Even though Alberti does not acknowledge that this could be a role of painting, his position is already very original for his time, and he indeed opened a door to what became prescriptive drawing—the ability to describe things that do not yet exists, something that architects now take for granted.

    – – –

    [1] Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, trans. John R. Spencer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966).
    [2] ibid., 43.

    October 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm

  13. Amalin has picked up on the cross-overs between form and matter for Alberti. In desiring to hold the eyes and the soul of the spectator, Alberti touches upon the importance of art calling forth the viewer’s emotions. Esiolé brings up the lack of perfect clarity in Alberti’s stance on the form/matter topic and advances the idea that the two are bound together. Uncleremus89 reminds us that this treatise was written to painters and should be read in its entirety. Somer connects the notion of perspectival geometries with human scale. Indeed, through the use of perspective, the painting has its center in and receives its measure from the viewer.

    November 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm