Structure and Paintings: Finding the Body of St. Mark

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Structure and Paintings
Analyzing Architecture and Perspective within Paintings
Curated by Max Cantu-Lima


Tintoretto, Finding the Body of St. Mark, 1562-66


"No design system is or should be perfect." 
#77, 101 Things I learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick

Perspective surrounds us even though we are not constantly acknowledging it. That's because it's naturally happening around us. By moving our eyes in relation to objects, we see different angles and sides that our mind processes into an understanding of depth. When perspective is applied to drawings and paintings, we immediately recognize it presence because its fabricated. The artist is creating a three-dimensional space within two-dimensional surface. With this conversion our minds register space differently. We see the illusion of depth and space when in reality, its purely the manipulation of a subject's size on the canvas. When an artist attempts to fool the viewer's eye, the accuracy of lines leading to the vanishing point becomes crucial. Any mistake could throw off the space. The painter becomes the illusionist  attempting you to believe in the images you see with the use of his paint and brush strokes.

After discussing St. Marks Library, I decided to continuing our exploration of structures within art with  this Tintoretto and its use of perspective. Finding the Body of St. Mark is one of four in a series pertaining to St. Mark. What Tintoretto does so well here is accurately producing the space these subjects live within. Through the checkered floor pattern to the hallways columns and balconies, Tintoretto opens up this intimate moment that's producing chaos and panic within the subjects. As a one-point perspective composition, the lines all lead not only to the paintings vanishing point but to the paintings light source. This trap door emits a light that floods the hallway with a dramatic layer of gold, exaggerated by the lines Tintoretto drew in.

While Tintoretto was able to accomplish a successful sense of space through perspective, the subjects fall short. Several of them appear transparent. He spent so much time getting the setting recorded accurately that his figures lack sufficient amounts of paint to separate themselves from the checkered floor pattern. Despite this Tintoretto creates beauty with balance and color. As a viewer you sense of urgency of the moment as St. Mark lies cold on the floor. The shadows and orange emissions create a scene of both pain and beauty.


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