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The fifteenth century Italian artist Piero della Francesca is now seen to embody the fullest expression of the Renaissance perspective painter. Yet until now we have known very little about Piero the man, and his biography has remained something of an enigma. This book puts that situation right, bringing together the story of Piero's artistic and mathematical achievements with the story of his life for the first time. Fortified by the discovery of over one hundredpreviously unknown documents, most unearthed by the author himself, James R. Banker at last brings this fascinating Renaissance enigma to life.
The fifteenth-century Italian artist Piero della Francesca painted a familiar world. Roads wind through hilly landscapes, run past farms, sheds, barns, and villages. This is the world in which Piero lived. At the same time, Piero’s paintings depict a world that is distant. The subjects of his pictures are often Christian and that means that their setting is the Holy Land, a place Piero had never visited. The Realism of Piero della Francesca studies this paradoxical aspect of Piero’s art. It tells the story of an artist who could think of the local churches, palaces, and landscapes in and around his hometown of Sansepolcro as miraculously built replicas of the monuments of Jerusalem. Piero’s application of perspective, to which he devoted a long treatise, was meant to convince his contemporaries that his paintings report on things that Piero actually observed. Piero’s methodical way of painting seems to have offered no room for his own fantasy. His art looks deliberately styleless. This book uncovers a world in which painting needed to validate itself by cultivating the illusion that it reported on things observed instead of things imagined by the artist. Piero’s painting claimed truth in a world of increasing uncertainties.
An innovative painter in the early generation of Renaissance artists, Piero dell Francesca was also an expert on religious topics and a mathematician who wanted to use perspective and geometry to make painting a “true science.” Although only sixteen of Piero’s works survive, few art historians doubt his importance in the Renaissance. A 1992 conference of international experts meeting at the National Gallery of Art deemed Piero “one of the most highly regarded painters of the early Renaissance, and one of the most respected artists of all time.” In recent years, the quest for Piero has continued among intrepid scholars, and Piero’s Light uncovers the life of this remarkable artistic revolutionary and enduring legacy of the Italian Renaissance.
Piero della Francesca's Madonna del Parto, a celebrated fifteenth-century Tuscan fresco in which the Virgin gestures to her partially open dress and her pregnant womb, is highly unusual in its iconography. Hubert Damisch undertakes an anthropological and historical analysis of an artwork he constructs as a childhood dream of one of humanity's oldest preoccupations, the mysteries of our origins, of our conception and birth. At once parodying and paying homage to Freud's seminal essay on Leonardo da Vinci, Damisch uses Piero's enigmatic painting to narrate our archaic memories. He shows that we must return to Freud because work in psychoanalysis and art has not solved the problem of what is being analyzed: in the triangle of author, work, and audience, where is the psychoanalytic component located?
Prominent Renaissance scholars reveal new insights into Piero’s life and work based on a study of his exquisite small panel paintings.

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