Paolo Uccello, 1397-1475
Drawing and Analysis homework assignment:
1-Find a Renaissance painting (dating somewhere between 1350 and 1600) that exemplifies the type of perspective that Alberti describes in his booklet De pictura. I suggest a painting that has some architectural details in it or furniture or some sort of object that shows off linear perspective. Your best place to look for digital images is "ARTstor" on the NYU library databases, but the Metropolitan museum is also just a subway ride away. You may want to do some quick research on Renaissance artists first, so you know what to look for in ARTstor or at the Met. The obvious candidates are Leonardo, Piero della Francesca, Uccello, Tintoretto, Mantegna, Dčrer, Holbein, Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, etc. If you feel ambitious you could also look at some stuff before or after this period. Roman Wall Painting, Duccio, Giotto, ....Piranesi, Escher... etc. Look around a little bit before you settle on one painting. Get familiar with the material.
2-Now, I'd like you to copy the painting by hand, in any medium (paint, pencil, charcoal, pastel, crayon, etc.) Study it closely. Since you should have chosen a painting with some obvious linear perspective in it, you should be able to lay the painting out using linear perspective. Do this and then block in the painting. This doesn't have to be great art. You don't have to put in faces or other difficult details in if you don't want to, but at the very least suggest faces and hands and difficult details by somehow generalizing them.. extract from them some sort of essence, some sort of form... some sort of human-ness or chair-ness or mountain-ness. Think about all this stuff we've been reading and discussion as you do this. Think about visual essences... red-ness and blue-ness. Think like an impressionist... an expressionist... an ontologist ... and epistemologist. Try to make something nice... visually nice. It doesn't have to look Renaissancy... it could look semi-abstract or extremely mathematical. But try to make something that works on some level.
3- Now I'd like you to map out the space in your picture. Literally draw a map (or ground plan) and locate all the objects in the painting or drawing or etching or whatever you are working from. This will lack perspective. It will simply be a scale diagram from above.
4-Do a somewhat detailed analysis of the measurements of your painting. Compare sizes of things... find a few ratios... don't forget the get the outer rectangle dimensions. Find prominent dividing lines, measure them, compare them with other prominent lines or division. Harmonic ratios? Golden ratio? Geometric or Arithmetic ratios? Look for prominent shapes in the composition... squares, pentagrams, circles.... etc. Look for these shapes not just in the shapes of objects, but look for these shapes in the abstract structure of the picture. Write up any observations you may have. They could be about perspective (not every artist followed Alberti's prescription, so don't be surprised if you find some variations), or about the work of art you've been studying, or on any other related thing. Post these observations (along with comments on the readings) on the blog here: Week 13a: Monday Blog.
5- If you can, send me an email attachment with this material. Try not to exceed 10 MB in total. Bring all hard copies to class and I'll photograph them there if need be.
Paolo Uccello, 1397-1475
a.k.a. Robert Campin, ca. 1375 – 1444