Sculpture and Perspective

British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4):357-373 (2010)
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Abstract

In every picture there is a perspective: the picture represents its object from a point (or points) of view. Is the same true of sculpture, and in particular is it true of the purest form of sculpture, sculpture in the round? I address this issue in two ways. First, I explore the prospects for reasoning that perspective forms part of the content of some sculptures by adapting an argument from M. G. F. Martin for the parallel claim in the case of visualizing. I conclude that the argument does not transfer successfully to the sculptural case. Second, I turn to the question whether sculptural experience presents the sculpted object from a point of view. That is, does our experience of sculpture involve, not merely a perspective on the sculpture itself, but a distinct perspective on the object visible in that sculpture? I consider, and reject, an argument for thinking that the answer is ‘yes’ before turning to two arguments for distinguishing sculpture from pictorial representations in this respect. That leaves us with no reason to think sculpture does involve perspective, rather than having reason to think it does not. I end by considering a principle that would allow us to close this gap

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Robert Hopkins
New York University

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