Liars and Loopholes: Dead Christ

7:00 AM

Liars and Loopholes
Subterfuge in Art
Curated by Tessia Phillips

Andrea Mantegna, Dead Christ, 1490

Mantegna uses the incomplete scene, shortened legs, and prominent stigmata to as tools of enhancement in Dead Christ. The two partial faces with Christ turned the other direction was not frequently used at Mantega’s time in art, as images were self-contained as opposed to a part of a whole. With this Mantegna is able to portray the action of mourning, and convey what would be the entire surrounding image without actually painting it.

Christ’s shortened legs are either an artist’s mistake or brilliance, but I’ll explain it as if it were intentional... but it's still wrong. If looked at from below and the legs were longer as opposed to shorter, it could look anatomically correct. Mantegna however does the opposite. In my mind, he thinks he’s outsmarting the viewer with use of length adjustments to appear correct, but doesn’t quite get there. And that's okay, for we approve of this cheat because it’s a valiant effort and a not quite a picturesque result.

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