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:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NC748 .B74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This book traces the history of three dimensional perspective in art from prehistoric and ancient times, during which the portrayal of depth was practically nonexistent, through its early development by the Greeks and Romans; its virtual disappearance in the Middle Ages; and its re-emergence and perfection in the Renaissance. The book also examines the role of the right cerebral hemisphere in appreciation of aesthetics and particularly of three dimensional art. It further points to similar human attributes that have risen and declined in tandem with the use of perspective, and which are also mediated by the right hemisphere: expressiveness of the human face, use of metaphor, love of the grand panoramas of nature, and the sense of self. The book considers not only the role of three-dimensional art in the rise of landscape painting, but also 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