Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review of "Art & Geometry: A Study in Space Intuitions," by William M. Ivins, Jr.

Review of
Art & Geometry: A Study in Space Intuitions, by William M. Ivins, Jr. ISBN 0486209415

Four out of five stars
 The ancient Greeks were in many ways intellectual powerhouses in the sense that they advanced many aspects of geometry, developing many concepts of the formal proof based on the abstraction of the pure figure. Yet, they were also weak in many areas, which is the major thesis Ivins puts forward. His arguments are based on the development of the geometrical ideas that led to a usable understanding of mathematical perspective.
 This book is a short history of the development of the understanding of perspective by Alberti and other Renaissance artists and how it led to an understanding of projective geometry. It also led to much more realistic artwork, where the depictions of humans and nature were more lifelike. Much of the content is contructed from lengthy footnotes that are used to list sources as well as bolster and further explain the content.
 It is a book that can be read with understanding by people with both art and math backgrounds. While some of the positions are a bit controversial, that is natural when ancient history is being interpreted.

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