Decio Gioseffi and “Perspective as symbolic form”


by Riccardo Migliari and Marco Fasolo

To mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Decio Gioseffi we would like to recall the courageous battle which as a young man he fought to amend Edwin Panofsky’s essay on Perspective as ‘symbolic form’ as
well as the misunderstandings that still affect perspective. As the years passed new elements have been introduced into the well-known querelle, Gioseffi versus Panofsky, in other words the results of several
recent studies on restricted sight and trompe-l’oeil painting and a cultural milieu currently more receptive to reconciling the historical-artistic interpretation of the essay with a scientific interpretation.
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Experimenting with Perspective. Particular Relationships between the Image and the Mind



The geometric certainty of perspective presents the Renaissance artist with a choice: should the work create the illusion representing the concrete, sensible world, or, on the contrary, should it portray the transcendent, speculative, abstract world of thought? This dichotomy would substantially characterise the culture of representation in the West from the Renaissance on. Perspective drawing becomes both the perfect experiment and the tangible testimony of this choice. For this reason, the phenomenon of perspective demands a unique analysis that considers this duality, since the informational intent reflected in the system for its realisation is different.

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