Saturday, 20 November 2010

M/M Piero della Francesca

Review by Nicola Linza

It is quite amazing to stop and consider that in today's world almost anything - and I mean literally anything - if marketed properly and able to be sold for profit in a gallery (regardless of quality or creator's intelligence) is too often pawned off as fine art. Once sold those one trick ponies are ultimately meaningless, and worthless.

There was a time when art meant something. Having either a context of social or political meaning, an item of spirituality and beauty or even ugliness, art once stood for solid ideological principles which could always be backed by the creator's talent of hand, eye, and certainly mind. One of the greatest artists of the early Italian Renaissance, an accomplished mathematician, Piero della Francesca painted religious works that are marked by their simple serenity and clarity and by the pure virtue of his genius; he certainly ranks among one of the greatest men who ever created fine art.

Often in great works there are interesting connections between mathematics and art and Piero della Francesca - A Mathematician's Art clearly outlines that the work of della Francesca shows no exception to that connection. The book leaves the reader with an enhanced and enlightened understanding of his paintings and writings. A painter of the fifteenth century, della Francesca`s skills and talents are explored in this the first combined study of his career as both a mathematician, and as a painter.

Author J. V. Field is an honorary visiting research fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. Field has done a stunning job of describing della Francesca's background as well as the artists interests and constant ability to create outstanding works of lasting artistic significance. Field goes in-depth into della Francesca's training as an artist and examines the powerful sense of his 3D forms, his abstraction abilities, and the often-solid geometry of his writings. Field also outlines della Francesca's treatise on perspective and paintings examining the all-important optical "rules" the artist followed in his pictorial placement.

The book concludes with an important consideration of the historical significance of della Francesca's tradition and connections to the Scientific Revolution. Through the art and Field's text Piero della Francesca is rightfully described as a man of intellectual strength. The book at 420 pages is beautifully illustrated with 32 color illustrations and 50 black and white.

Highly recommended.