Cover image for Vanishing points : three dimensional perspective in art and history
Vanishing points : three dimensional perspective in art and history
Brener, Milton E., 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 215 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
The "discovery" of the third dimension -- Art before the third dimension -- The "right" brain -- The Greeks -- Reaching for the third dimension -- Nature in ancient art -- Nature as religion in ancient literature -- Discovery of the individual -- Novelty -- Portraiture -- The Romans -- The Middle Ages and the retreat of nature -- Metaphor, individuality, and facial representation in the Middle Ages -- Chinese landscape -- One point in space, one moment in time -- Landscape in western art -- The battle for nature -- Evolution? -- The final vanishing points.
Subject Term:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library NC748 .B74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This work traces the history of three-dimensional perspective in art, its origins, and its impact on human outlook and our view of nature. From prehistoric times, when the portrayal of depth was virtually non-existent, and the tentative beginnings of perspective in Greek and Roman times, through its perfection by Brunelleschi and Alberti in 15th century Italy, to the return of flat style in the Middle Ages and the rebirth of perspective in the Renaissance, the work examines painters and works illustrative of the evolution of perspective.This history also emphasizes the relation of perspective to the development of humanism, analyzing scientific evidence of the role of the right cerebral hemisphere in the appreciation of three-dimensional art. It explores similar human attributes that have risen and declined in tandem with perspective: expressiveness in the human face, use of metaphor, love of the grand panoramas of nature, and the sense of individuality. The book shows evidence of the role of three-dimensional art in the rise of landscape painting and its contribution to the admiration and investigation of nature and the rise of the scientific age.

Author Notes

Retired attorney Milton E. Brener has written books and numerous articles, and has lectured on art history. He lives in Jefferson, Louisiana

Reviews 1

Choice Review

One of the strengths of art history is its openness to amateur participation. Here Brener, a retired attorney who has previously published on the Kennedy assassination aftermath, piloting airplanes, opera, and the history of representations of the human face, contributes an exceptionally wide-ranging discussion of fundamental issues in the history of representational art. He writes clearly, has read widely, and makes an important invitation to art historians to think more systematically about whether the history of cognition, of the evolution of the brain's structure, might not have played a part in the development of perspective and, in general, of aesthetic taste. Brener's ideas will interest students of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art, and more generally others as well. His work is at times reminiscent of John White's classic The Birth and Rebirth of Pictorial Space (1957) and E. H. Gombrich's attempts to introduce psychological research on perception into art historical understanding. Black-and-white illustrations are nicely integrated with the text. Accessible and intriguing, highly literate rather than defensively footnoted, this book manages to raise the big questions the professionals sometimes manage to forget. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. P. Emison University of New Hampshire

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
I. The "Discovery" of the Third Dimensionp. 5
II. Art before the Third Dimensionp. 14
III. The "Right" Brainp. 31
IV. The Greeksp. 41
V. Reaching for the Third Dimensionp. 50
VI. Nature in Ancient Artp. 67
VII. Nature as Religion in Ancient Literaturep. 76
VIII. Discovery of the Individualp. 89
IX. Noveltyp. 100
X. Portraiturep. 112
XI. The Romansp. 121
XII. The Middle Ages and the Retreat of Naturep. 130
XIII. Metaphor, Individuality and Facial Representation in the Middle Agesp. 140
XIV. Chinese Landscapep. 149
XV. One Point in Space, One Moment in Timep. 156
XVI. Landscape in Western Artp. 167
XVII. The Battle for Naturep. 178
XVIII. Evolution?p. 188
XIX. The Final Vanishing Pointsp. 194
Chapter Notesp. 199
Bibliographyp. 203
Indexp. 211

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