Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Horror Vacui

SEE THE ARTICLE HORROR VACUI, over at The Lion and the Cardinal. This article points out the limitations of linear perspective in Renaissance painting, as well as defends the lack of perspective in Medieval painting.
A great amount of information must to be included in a mediaeval picture to communicate the intended symbolism or narrative. Perspective is actually a hindrance to this. In "realistic" space, most activity occurs within a squat region between ground level and six feet above ground level. The result is that the figures are all standing in front of each other. Mediaeval artists often lifted the plane of the earth, so that figures in the background are seen above figures in the foreground, not completely blocked by them.

This art fills all of its given space, wasting none of it on empty sky. The art critical term for this is horror vacui, the fear of the void. It is a nearly universal artistic conviction; only in the far east and in modern times have artists valued blank space. Only Buddhists and Nihilists are interested in nothingness.
As we see in very many Medieval and Byzantine churches, every square foot is covered with artwork, and so in painting, area must not be wasted, since there is a narrative to tell.

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