Re-envisioning the ordinary : a study of vantage points in painting

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McCune, Janet M.
Marshall, Nina B.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Art
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Viewed from odd angles, the ordinary looks new and the commonplace becomes unusual. The purpose of my creative project, Re-envisionina the Ordinary: A Study of Vantage Points in Painting, was to use unusual vantage points and multiple viewpoints as compositional devices to show familiar household scenes and objects in a new way. Analysis of artworks and writings by realist painters such as Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne and Pierre Bonnard helped me learn how each of these artists used unusual or multiple viewpoints While researching these artists, I began to understand why space is one of the fundamental issues of art. I found that, as an artist, I cannot use vantage points and viewpoints without considering the larger issue of space.Artists throughout time have wrestled with the question: how does one represent three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface? By presenting different treatments of space, I showed how various artists have answered the question. Leonardo da Vinci solved the problem using linear perspective. Edgar Degas and Pierre Bonnard answered the question usingoriental space and unusual or multiple viewpoints. Paul Cezanne's solution was a new system of unified space.Contemporary artists provide other answers to the question of space. Rene Magritte used the illusionary devices of linear perspective to paint his surreal world. Philip Pearlstein returned to Degas' and Cezannes' concept of space to emphasize both the three-dimensionality of the figures and the twodimensionality of the picture plane. David Hockney found his solution in the multiple viewpoints of cubism.My creative project is my answer to the question. I integrated unusual vantage points, and multiple viewpoints to create ten paintings with unified space. I used some conventions of linear perspective to show depth. For example, sizes and details in my paintings diminish with distance. I then contradicted the three-dimensionality by using some conventions of oriental space that flatten the picture plane: oblique perspective, overlapping and positioning an object next to the front surface.