Erwin Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form


Erwin Panofsky Perspective as Symbolic Form (1924)

Excited about getting this book. I have a general idea about its thesis, but I’m looking forward to reading it properly. Recently I’ve been experimenting with atmospheric perspective, but I haven’t used linear perspective for a while. Last September I went through a phase of adding linear perspectival elements to canvases that were otherwise covered in doodles (the idea came from de Chirico via Rauch). I was surprised by how forcefully the perspectival lines opened up an illusionistic space behind the doodles that were already on the canvas.

These paintings are hard to look at now (the colour, especially), but they make me think about how I might try using linear perspective again. I’ve been avoiding it because I felt “old” linear perspective had been pretty thoroughly revisited by the New Leipzig School painters (Ruckhäberle, Weischer, Rauch), and contemporary/futuristic versions of linear perspective were already covered by others (incl. Julie Mehretu, Franz Ackermann, David Schnell). Maybe Panofsky’s book will give me ideas about other ways of approaching perspective in my own work.


160905a (2016) oil on canvas 40 x 35.5cm


160906a (2016) oil on canvas 46 x 43.5cm


160906b (2016) oil on canvas 49 x 40.5cm


160909 (2016) 46.5 x 43cm


160911 (2016) oil on canvas 49.5 x 39.5cm


161001 Purple/Yellow House (2016) oil on canvas 37.5 x 26cm


2 thoughts on “Erwin Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form

  1. You’ve conveyed this linear perspective thing well. Not bad bones if you are hitchng a ride with de Chirico and Rauch. Peggy Guggenheim has an embarrassment of de Chirico riches and I[ve just searched them and see something of what you say Liam. As to your own doodles here, it is quite evident that you have commandeered the technique.

    And, favourite my colour-blindee, the colour works just fine in them, particularly in 160911, and SPECTACULARLY in 161001!


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