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The Byzantine Artists, Essay Example

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Essay

The Byzantine artists used the “Reserve perspective” to make objects apperar to tip upward. The Byzantine believes that space should be extended forward, but in the art of Ravenna, the curtain that the attendant to the right of Theodora pulls back shows the space backward. This reverse persoective could also be related to a mirage which makes a distant object seems closer.

The reason behind this technique on the artists is inseparable from the subject matter of Byzantine art. The subjects this art addressed were largely those of a sacred and holy nature, related to the principles and doctrines of Christian theology. Hence, one of the foremost uses of reverse perspective is found in religious icons and iconography in general. By reversing the perspective in this art, the artist wants to show that the subject matter is something other-worldly. If the artist would merely use a normal perspective, there could be a potential misunderstanding concerning the message of the work. In other words, a normal use of perspective would suggest that subject matter is merely the mundane and everyday, and the classical Byzantine icons of the Mother of God and Christ could then be considered banal, losing their mystical quality.

What the artists wished to do is show a glimpse into transcendence, and therefore they had to break the rules of worldly perspective. They at the same time wanted to show that the human way of seeing is not the only way of seeing: that is to say that our conventions are not the only reality. Reverse perspective therefre becomes a deeply religious and philosophical tool with which the artist may explore the limits of our worldly existence. Reverse perspective in this sense could be said to attempt to mimic the feelings of revelation, as revelation means a type of knowledge that is revealed by God and therefore does not come from human normativities or everyday existence. With reverse perspective, Byzantine art therefore reveals itself to the one who beholds it, challenging his or her preconceptions, while also orienting the viewer of the work of art towards the divine and other-worldly.

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