Buildings, Paintings, Perspective
A study on perspective raises the question of whether it is still possible to throw new light on this technique of depicting volumes and space that from the Quattrocento to the early 20th century much determined how architecture and painting were conceived.
Without sacrificing geometric rigor (Gentil was chair of Descriptive Geometry at the Madrid School of Architecture, and is now chair of Drawing in Seville), the work traverses theoretical, linguistic and psychological contents which the author weaves together with ease. In this way we understand the reference made to the two essential and ‘completely disparate’ studies that appeared in the 1920s: The Inverted Perspective, by Pavel Florensky, and Perspective as Symbolic Form, by Erwin Panofsky.
In Sobre la supuesta perspectiva antigua (y algunas consecuencias modernas), Gentil starts at the origins, addresses the diachronics of graphic expression, presents western depiction in parallel with other cultures (eg, Jesuit missionaries’ failed attempt to introduce linear perspective in China), discusses the spread of perspectiva naturalis, and constructs a corpus of ideas from which to extract “unforeseen consequences”.
The book lends itself to superposed readings. Besides the text is an effective graphic discourse and an elaborate body of notes and bibliographic references. A book, thus, that caters to different kinds of readers, from those already knowledgeable in the field to people venturing to make discoveries. Neither group will be disappointed.