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Urte Krass: Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit
Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit
(p. 249 – 266)

The Relentlessness of Perspective. A Look at the Bystanders in 15th-Century Italian Painting

Urte Krass

Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit
Piero della Francescas »Flagellazione« als Schaustück für die Unerbittlichkeit der Perspektive

PDF, 18 pages

In the center of this article stands Piero della Francesca’s Flagellation of Christ. The enigmatic painting has been the object of innumerable interpretations; while for the most part, research has focused on the identification of the three prominent figures in the foreground, this article suggests that it is not the painting’s intention to present the bystanders as specific and clearly defined individuals. On the contrary, the painting exemplifies the artist’s relentlessness in constructing a perspectival space: the self-confident artist of the Quattrocento raises simple bystanders or onlookers to the status of protagonists within the pictorial space, while reducing central stories from the Christian salvific history to mere background events.

  • art history
  • Middle ages
  • iconography
  • painting
  • antiquity
  • eye
  • Byzantium
  • observer
  • public sphere
  • gaze
  • Islamic art

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Urte Krass

Urte Krass

works as Assistant Professor at the Institute for Art History of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. Her research focusses on saints’ images from icon to photography, early artistic theory in the Italian »novelle« of the 14th century as well as on the political use of images in Portugal and its Overseas Empire in the Early Modern period.

Other texts by Urte Krass for DIAPHANES
Beate Fricke (ed.), Urte Krass (ed.): The Public in the Picture / Das Publikum im Bild

The invention of depicting figures participating in an event — nameless bystanders, beholders, and onlookers — marks an important change in the ways artists addressed the beholder of the artworks themselves. This shift speaks to a significant transformation of the relationship between images and their audience. The public in the picture acts as mediator between times, persons, and contents. The contributions of this volume describe this moment from a diachronic and transcultural perspective, while each of them focuses on a specific group of works revealing a new moment in this history. They explore the cultural contexts of the political and religious public, and relate the rise of the public in the picture to the rise of perspectival representation (Panofsky’s space-box and Kemp’s Chronotopos).