Perspective Art–A Renaissance Calling Card
I’d have to answer with, “I’m not so sure.” For me, studying Italian Renaissance and Baroque art meant spending a lot of time talking about how awesome linear perspective is. And to a certain extent that is still true. Artists were able to conquer three dimensions with just two.
Perspective art practitioners such as Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna illustrated how to masterfully employ the effects of perspective. They sometimes emphasized them outright. That’s because the skill legitimized artists of the day and acted as a calling card.
Not So Razzle Dazzle Anymore
But linear perspective’s appeal no longer holds the same cachet it did five centuries ago. Its conventions are viewed more like tired and taxing math equations. It takes a lot of practice to make perspective work well.
Instead of talking about vanishing points and two-point perspective, now artists resolve spatial challenges of distance and proportion less rigidly. They create recessional space, atmosphere, and volume with size and pattern, compositional and light choices. Sometimes artists even use perspective not to create realistic space–but to distort it.
More Perspective The Better? No.
Perspective and looser interpretations of it, such as sighting, are still useful for artists to understand, especially when situating objects in space. But extreme perspective art does not yield supreme realism. Take Paolo Uccello’s warring cavalry in the Battle of San Romano series.
The carousel horses aside, Uccello pushed the perspective grid to such an extent he all but laid out his composition on a checkerboard. The end result is stilted. The lesson? Artists should continue to search for ways to resolve the illusion of space and distance—as well as ways to creating believable wholes. It’s a compelling challenge that unites all artists who work in any level or representation.
Renaissance Meets Contemporary
Artists today meet spatial challenges using color, texture, line and shape. These all contribute to what Renaissance artists desired all those centuries ago—pushing the boundaries of two dimensions to capture our three-dimensional world.
With Perspective for the Absolute Beginner, you are in the unique position of learning both the historic basics of perspective art that the Renaissance artists held so dear as well as how to manipulate these techniques like contemporary masters should!
Discover dozens of ways to situate objects in space using all kinds of effective strategies. See how that ability translates beyond genre or medium. It attests to how diversely and skillfully each artist can approach perspective, and how much there is to learn from seeing that process unfold, which is what Perspective for the Absolute Beginner is all about. Enjoy!