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Video transcript

artists of the Renaissance are interested in presenting the world that we see presenting it naturalistically and by natural world we don't mean nature we don't just mean trees and grass we mean everything in the world that we observe and one of the tools that they used to do that is something called foreshortening which is one of the ways that we see the world and foreshortening refers to seeing a long object head on so that it looks compressed or another way to think about it is that when you're looking at a painting it looks as though something in the painting is going back into that illusionistic space or coming out toward you but that we're looking at it more or less head-on so that we don't see the full length of that form let's take a look at Raphael's School of Athens because there are some great examples of foreshortening here probably the most obvious is in the hand of the figure of Aristotle in the very centre of the painting and because his forearm looks as though it's coming toward us we immediately have a sense of an illusion of space because if his hand moves out toward us there must be space or an illusion of space for it to move back into and we know that this illusion of space was critical for artists of the Renaissance Raphael's painted such a convincing illusion that we can imagine that we can walk into this space and if we did and we walked to the right or the left of these figures we would see the full extension of that arm but instead we have that arm collapsed it's a successful illusion but if we focus on it it does look a little funny our mind interprets what we see and so we know that we're not just looking at a man who has no forearm with his hand stuck on his elbow but our mind interprets this as an arm that exists in space so how does the artist actually pull off the successful illusion if you look very closely you can see that Aristotle's fingertips are bright there's light on them but the underside of the fingers are in shadow there's a little bit of light that touches the pads of his thumb and of his palm but then their shadow again under his forearm two other obvious examples of foreshortening in this painting are Diogenes who seems to lounge on the stairs if you look at his thigh it is not a full extension again it's foreshortened or the representation of Heraclitus who writes seated in the four and if you look at his thigh you can see that it is also foreshortened as is the piece of stone that he's leaning on and so for shortening is a tool that Renaissance artists really relied on to create a convincing illusion of naturalism of the natural world and there you have it for shortening [Music]
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