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Showing Time: Continuous Pictorial Narrative and the Adam and Eve Story

In Memory of Alberto Argenton

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • First application of a Gestalt-oriented approach to study continuous pictorial narrative
  • Exhaustive case study of a single iconography - the Creation of Adam and Eve
  • Toolkit for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of complex visual narratives
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About this book

How does a visual artist manage to narrate a story, which has a sequential and therefore temporal progression, using a static medium consisting solely of spatial sign elements and, what is more, in a single image? This is the question on which this work is based, posed by its designer, Alberto Argenton, to whose memory it is dedicated. The first explanation usually given by scholars in the field is that the artist solves the problem by depicting the same character in a number of scenes, thus giving indirect evidence of events taking place at different times. This book shows that artists, in addition to the repetition of characters, devise other spatial perceptual-representational strategies for organising the episodes that constitute a story and, therefore, showing time. Resorting to the psychology of art of a Gestalt matrix, the book offers researchers, graduates, advanced undergraduates, and professionals a description of a large continuous pictorial narrative repertoire (1000 works)and an in-depth analysis of the perceptual-representational strategies employed by artists from the 6th to the 17th century in a group of 100 works narrating the story of Adam and Eve.

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Table of contents (8 chapters)

  1. The Study

  2. Reference Materials of the Study

Authors and Affiliations

  • Senior Scholar, University of Padua, Padova, Italy

    Laura Messina-Argenton

  • Full Professor of Psychology Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

    Tiziano Agostini

  • Independent Researcher, Padova, Italy

    Tamara Prest

  • Associate Director Department of Visual Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

    Ian F. Verstegen

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