Artists Know How to Keep Things in Perspective

Paolo Uccello (1396-1475). Perspective Study of a Chalice, pen and ink on paper

Paolo Uccello (1396-1475). Perspective Study of a Chalice, pen and ink on paper, 29 x 24.5 cm, Gabinetto dei Disegni, Uffizi, Florence, Italy.

“[Paolo Uccello] would remain the long night in his study to work out the vanishing points of his perspective, and when summoned to his bed by his wife replied in the celebrated words: ‘How fair a thing is this perspective.’ Being endowed be nature with a sophisticated and subtle disposition, he took pleasure in nothing save in investigating difficult and impossible questions of perspective . . . When engaged in these matters, Paolo would remain alone in his house almost like a hermit, with hardly any intercourse, for weeks and months, not allowing himself to be seen . . . By using up his time on these fancies he remained more poor than famous during his lifetime.”

Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists



Alyson Shotz, Ecliptic, 2012.

Alyson Shotz, Ecliptic, 2012. Photo: Lee Stalsworth.

Alyson Shotz’s work Eclipticon view through May 27 as part of the Intersections contemporary art series, makes me think of a 560-year-old Italian Renaissance perspectival drawing. Except Uccello never worked in yarn. The modern is always rooted in the past. Be sure to see this installation–you may leave saying to yourself, “How fair a thing is this perspective.” May she become more famous than poor.

Ianthe Gergel, Museum Assistant