9780262041393 / 0262041391

The Origin of Perspective


Publisher:The MIT Press



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About the book:

In part a response to Panofsky's "Perspective as Symbolic Form", this book uses a structuralist method such as the one developed by Claude Levi-Strauss in "The Way of the Masks" and thoroughly applies it to Western art. The task Damisch has set for himself is to refute both the positivist critics, whose approach makes up the bulk of perspective studies and is based on a complete repression of Panofsky's early work, and the current pseudo-avant-gardist position (whether in the field of cinema studies or in literary criticism), which tends to disregard facts and theoretical analysis. Damisch argues that if a theoretical analysis of perspective is possible, using all the tools of structuralist semiotics, it is onlv possible in the context of a close look at its appearance possible in history, beginning with the details of the "invention" of perspective. In the first part, Damisch reassesses Panofsky's account, considered here as the theoretical starting block. While he appreciates the depth of Panofsky's text, Damisch exposes its shortcomings, and prepares to show through various examples that perspective in painting is not simply a matter of verisimilitude, but of thought, the notion of "thought in painting" being at the core of his work. The second part brings the historical invention of perspective into focus, discussing the experiments with mirrors made by Brunelleschi, connecting it to the history of consciousness via Jacques Lacan's definition of the "tableau" as "a configuration in which the subject as such gets its bearings." In the third - and most pointedly structuralist part, Damisch traces the history of the "perspective paradigm," with a full discussion of the theoretical implications of its constitutive moments, in an analysis of three known panel paintings of the "Ideal City," produced in the quattrocento, in Piero della Francesca's works, in Carpacclo's works, and finally in Velazquez's "Las Meninas".

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