Oblique Drawing: A History of Anti-Perspective

Massimo Scolari, trans. from the Italian by Jenny Condie Palandri. MIT, $39.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-262-01774-9
In this enthusiastically erudite collection of essays, Scolari brings together his experiences as an academic, designer, and architect to examine the role of "anti-perspective" in the history and philosophy of art. While German art critic Erwin Panofsky's Perspective as Symbolic Form (1927) has largely defined conversations regarding visual perception and representation, Scolari offers an alternative take, more in conversation with Panofsky's classic text than in disagreement with working theories. Tracking instances of parallel projection (an alternative to perspectival representation) across cultures and millennia, Scolari is keenly interested in the philosophical and theological components of representational drawing. The essays draw from abstract geometry, art history, military customs, engineering, and myriad other topics, resulting in a rush of information that will occasionally leave behind anyone who is not a devoted specialist. However, Scolari's own passion for the subject makes the essays surprisingly engaging, and his devotion to complex answers (as opposed to sweeping generalities) results in generous insight for those with a few reference books nearby and the patience to follow his carefully constructed arguments. For the right reader, this offers an invaluable re-thinking of the ways that "thought and image part company and contradict each other, giving rise to… the unpredictable paths of ideas." Photos and illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-0-262-52761-3
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