Month: May 2015

Artistic Distortions in Perspective

Giorgio Di ChiricoThis was an interesting assignment in my Perspective class:

How does the altered perspective change the feeling and sensibility of the scene?

Do you think these are purposeful, simple mistakes or negligence? Does the altered perspective make this better or worse and in what way? What is isometric projection and where is it here?

Additionally for this discussion, find an artwork that has some errors in the perspective (large or small) through a web search. Paste the url into the discussion thread below and answer the same questions.

Here’s my response:

Giorgio de Chirico once said, “To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.”   This philosophy is reflected in his painting Mystery and Melancholy of a Street: the composition deliberately and repeatedly breaks the rules of perspective (de Chirico was capable of depicting correct perspective, see his uncharacteristic “Still Life with Silver Ware”), which contributes to an unsettling, dreamlike atmosphere that characterizes his main body of work.

Isometric projection is a technique used for drawing three-dimensional geometric forms, where the angles of the form between the projection of the axes equal 120 degrees.  I believe isometric projection is used here for the form of the vehicle.

An example of a painting that has multiple unintentional errors in perspective is this 13th century miniature:

The unfinished castle in the middle seems to be at two different distances; it seems close enough that a worker can prop up a board against the wall by him, and yet the door and the workers on the top of the structure are too small for that distance.  There’s also the matter of how the castle on the right-hand side of the painting is too low in the composition for its distance away from the viewer, and as a result, the richly-dressed men seem to be taller than two stories of the castle.  Despite this, I can’t say that this “ruins” the painting, either; it has an earnest, unpolished charm of its own.

HogarthA classmate posted a humorous work by Hogarth:William Hogarth’s intentions for the second image were to accompany a friend’s pamphlet on linear perspective.  The image is crowded with as many deliberate perspective mistakes as possible: tiles skewing away from the vanishing point, sheep growing larger into the distance, the sign obscured by the trees in the background, etc.


Atmospheric Perspective in Painting – Examples

In these exercises, we had to select works of art that reflected techniques of atmospheric perspective or ways of rendering depth or distance by tone, hue, or detail. Here are my comments on the paintings as well as my painting of Bracketts Landing near my home in Edmonds (last, exaggerated colors).

Caillebotte: Closer figures are darker than the ones in the background. Compare the dark dog and figures in the fore grand compared to the light building and person crossing the road in the back. More precise detail is given to foreground figures than those in the distance, mimicking human vision. There is strong one-point perspective composition. The side opening bridge create the illusion of depth. The railing also shows much more detail closer than farther.


Michael Orwick: Michael Orwick is a painter from Oregon that my mom recently interviewed. In Misty Morning, atmospheric perspective convey strongly by both the relative sharpness of closer trees and the relative lightness of farther trees. This painting also is a good example of how hue can be used to convey sense of depth. The close trees are orange and brown and trees in the distance behind the fog are more lavender.

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Bierstadt: In Bierstadt’s painting, atmospheric perspective is conveyed by fine detail in the foreground figures, using shadows and sharp contrast (look at the use of white on the figures). It’s also possible to see details like the fringe on the mats that are being made. In the mid ground, the mountains ad less distinct with a narrower range of contrast between colors. Also Bierstadt show masterful use of contrast differences between the waves close to the viewer and far to convey atmospheric perspective.

Bierstadt Seurat: In Sunday Afternoon, atmospheric perspective is conveyed by detail and contrast. Examples of detail and  contrast to create the illusion of depth are notable for instance in the woman with an umbrella in the foreground (strong dark garment and light face) vs. mid ground (more subtle differences in contrast). Analysis of hue in this painting is more complex because figures are in sun or shade, but what Seurat does seem to do is have bands of hue at depths that connect characters at that level whether they are in sun or shade, creating a more uniform illusion of depth. Examples include row of people in the foreground in shadow vs. a little farther back in sun, and then still farther seated in shadow.SeuratBrackett’s Landing in Edmonds, WA.  Krister-Bracketts