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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.


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