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Geometries of Light and Shadows, from Piero della Francesca to James Turrell

  • Agostino De RosaEmail author
  • Francesco Bergamo
Living reference work entry

Abstract

This chapter addresses the problem of representing light and shadow in the artistic culture, from its uncertain beginnings, related to the studies on conical linear perspective in the Fifteenth Century, to the applications of light projection in the installations of contemporary art.

Here are examined in particular two works by two artists, representing two different conceptual approaches to the perception and symbolism of light and shadow. The first is the so-called Brera Madonna by Piero della Francesca, where the image projected from a luminous radiation is employed with a narrative purpose, supporting the apparently hidden script of the painting and according to the artist’s own speculations about perspective as a means to clarify the phenomenal world.

The second is one of James Turrell’s Dark Spaces installations, where quantum electrodynamics interpretation of light is taken into account: for Turrell, light is physical and thus can shape spaces where the visitors, or viewers, can “see themselves seeing.” In his body of work, perceptual deceptions are carefully produced by the interaction of the senses with his phenomenal staging of light and darkness, but a strong symbolic component is always present, often related to his own speculative interests.

In both cases, light and shadow, through their geometries, emphasize both phenomenal and spiritual contents of the work of art, intended as a device to expand the perception and the knowledge of the viewer.

Keywords

Shadow projection Perspective Drawing Piero Della Francesca James Turrell 

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Suggested Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Culture del ProgettoUniversità Iuav di VeneziaVeneziaItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bharath Sriraman
    • 1
  • Kyeong-Hwa Lee
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mathematical SciencesThe University of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics Education, College of EducationSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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