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Michael Baxandall
Michael Baxandall (1933–2008) is a professor emeritus of the History of Art, University of California, Berkeley, and a professor emeritus of the History of the Classical Tradition, Warburg Institute, University of London.
Baxandall, Michael
Baxandall, Michael
United States of America
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Shadows and Enlightenment
Shadows are holes in light. We see them all the time, and sometimes we notice them, but their part in our visual experience of the world is mysterious. In this book, an eminent art historian draws on contemporary cognitive science, eighteenth-century theories of visual perception, and art history to discuss shadows and the visual knowledge they can offer.

Michael Baxandall begins by describing the physical constitution and different varieties of shadows. He then sketches the eighteenth-century empirical/nativist debate on the role of shadows in the perception of shape. Next he surveys modern research by cognitive scientists and machine vision workers, explaining how research is divided on the issue of how far and by what means shadows help or hinder perception of shape. Baxandall continues his exploration by recounting a neglected episode of shadow theory, the observations of a group of mid-eighteenth-century French scientists and artists on shadows as related to light and space. Finally he sets these various shadow universes into relation with each other, addressing the special problem of painting shadows, and analyzes Chardin's painting The Young Draughtsman, in which shadow painting is both medium and theme. The book includes an appendix that situates and summarizes the shadow system of Leonardo da Vinci, which has had a strong though partly underground influence on thinking about shadows for five hundred years.
Print publication date June 1995 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300059793
EISBN 9780300220490
Illustrations 68
Print Status in print
Words for Pictures: Seven Papers on Renaissance Art and Criticism
The Italian Renaissance was a creative period for art criticism as well as for art itself. The early efforts to give verbal accounts of visual representations and their quality throw light not only on the art of the period but also on art criticism at any time. This collection of papers by art historian and critic Michael Baxandall represents his thinking over the past forty years on the relation between language and art. He offers seven thought-provoking pieces, three of which are new and written specifically for this book. Focusing on works of the fifteenth century, Baxandall shows with fresh insight how words match the experience of looking at paintings and sculptures.

The author introduces the basic Renaissance framework for art criticism and proceeds to explore various humanist critical writings of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. He concludes with a major new essay on Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection of Christ in which he probes the visual experience of a painting that criticism seeks to verbalize.
Print publication date July 2003 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300097498
EISBN 9780300220506
Illustrations 41
Print Status in print
Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures
Distinguished art historian Michael Baxandall here discusses the historical understanding of works of art: how we can discover the intentions of an artist living in a different time and culture and to what extent we can test and evaluate a historical interpretation of a picture. Analyzing in detail paintings by Picasso, Chardin, and Piero della Francesca, Baxandall shows how this inferential criticism sharpens our legitimate satisfaction in the art works themselves.
Print publication date July 1985 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300037630
EISBN 9780300220483
Illustrations 74
Print Status in print