Envisioning geometry: architecture in the grip of perspective

Temple, Nicholas (2016) Envisioning geometry: architecture in the grip of perspective. In: Visioning technologies: the architectures of sight. Routledge, London, pp. 21-35. ISBN 9781472454966


This book chapter examines the early developments of perspective in 15th century Florence, arguing that the conception of pictorial space in the Early Renaissance both drew upon late Medieval notions of luminary space and anticipated the 'geometrisation' of space in Modernity. The paper demonstrates this intermediate position (at once reflective and anticipatory) through an examination of the ideas of Nicolas Cusanus, Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Leon Battista Alberti, all of whom presented different 'models' of perspective in the light of their own artistic predilections and architectural interests. A shared view however of the role and significance of perspective at this time concerns its capacity to redefine pictorially the civic and religious dimensions of the actual city. This is demonstrated in both Brunelleschi's perspective 'experiments' and Ghiberti's composition and spatial articulation of the 'Gates of Paradise' for Florence Baptistery. In the final section of the paper, I examine a photograph by Le Corbusier in which I demonstrate how his visual recording of his studio (articulated in a drawing by Peter Carl) applies similar methods of luminary and geometric relationships found in Renaissance pictorial space.

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