quarta-feira, novembro 07, 2007
Fresco at the Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
"In Masaccio’s frescoes in Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence—one of the earliest examples of the use of perspective—shadows not only function to give a sense of space and volume but are also used as symbols. Can you explain the role shadows played in the iconography of the Renaissance?
To represent a cast shadow correctly signifies a good knowledge of perspective, of three-dimensional space—this was one of the most important features of Renaissance painting, beginning with Alberti, Leonardo, and beyond. However, despite the importance of perspective, shadows don’t feature very frequently in the paintings of the Renaissance and I asked myself, “Why?” Probably one reason was that shadows were dark and therefore considered ugly. Leonardo, and others after him, said that the representation of shadows had to be correct but was not obligatory in painting. The painter was free to choose whether to represent them or not, because to represent all cast shadows would be too much.
Masaccio, one of the pioneers of Renaissance painting, was one of the first painters to explore the symbolism of the shadow. In his frescos in Santa Maria del Carmine he not only dealt with cast shadow in the frame of good, correct, and new perspectival representation, but he painted an actual story about cast shadow. It is the story of St. Peter healing the sick with his shadow, an old story told in the Acts of the Apostles. In the painting this miracle seems to be taking place before our very eyes. Two sick men that the apostle has already passed are now on their feet and another is in the process of standing.
Masaccio fused the visual representation of an ancient myth about the healing shadow with the newly acquired capacity of painting to correctly represent cast shadow. I found this very striking, very interesting. Through an extremely refined process, he brings together the two origins (sacred and scientific) in this mise-en-scène/ of the shadow’s power."
A Short History of the Shadow: An Interview With Victor I. Stoichita in Cabinet.
posted by Luís Miguel Dias quarta-feira, novembro 07, 2007