Martino Bassi’s “Dispareri in Materia d’Architettura et Perspettiva” are, on the one hand, a polemic against Tibaldi’s work on the Milan Cathedral, but on the other hand, above all, they represent “the most surprising and interesting example of the seriousness with which the position of the point of view in the surface of the painting and its relationship to the position of the viewer were discussed in the Renaissance” (Panofsky, 1980).
With Alices help I wanted to learn more about this relationship between art and architecture, especially its historical development. After some fruitless searches, I chose “perspective” as the topic of conversation and entered the search terms “art, perception, architecture”. I immediately came across a quote from Koolhaas’s book Architecture of Elements: “Perspective was perhaps the critical discovery of the Renaissance, allowing architecture, until then considered a mechanical activity, to be subsumed into the higher realm of visual art.” After reading the text before and after the quote, I learned that the emergence of this subjective perspective in the Renaissance is related to the advent of the window since the 15th century, which allowed a framed, specific view of the outside world, i.e. architecture. Bassi’s “Dispareri in Materia d’Architettura et Perspettiva” are thus characteristic of their time and, if Panofsky is to be believed, also contributed to the elevation of architecture into an form of visual art.
In a second search query, I wanted to find out more about the Milan Cathedral itself. I chose “duomo” as the topic of conversation and selected “art” as the search term. Contrary to expectations, I came across a cross-reference to Panofsky again in the book “late gothic architecture” by Robert Bork, an expert on gothic architecture and art. In it, he describes, among other things, how Panofsky’s astute analysis of the Renaissance elevates it above the Gothic in terms of art history, not only by “‘rescuing’ Jan van Eyck from the taint of medievalism”, but above all by influencing contemporary and later generations towards studying and researching the Renaissance rather than the Gothic: “Renaissance art tends to enjoy greater prestige than medieval art in part because it has been so closely associated with the prestige of art theory”.