The Open Window
April 9, 2022 - July 10, 2022
First of all, on the surface on which I am going to paint, I draw a rectangle of whatever size I want, which I regard as an open window through which the subject to be painted is seen.
Leon Battista Alberti, 1435, De Pictura (translated by Cecil Grayson, 1972)
In De Pictura (On Painting, 1435), Italian Renaissance theorist Leon Battista Alberti instructed painters to consider the frame of the painting as an open window. This treatise laid out a method for effectively creating perspectival (single point) space in painting and, consequently, served as a defining concept for theories of painting, architecture, and moving pictures going forward.
Of course, “Alberti’s window” has been challenged repeatedly by modern artists through painting movements like Cubism, photographic collage, avant-garde film, and multiple modes of contemporary art. The works in this exhibition either follow or challenge the metaphor of Alberti’s window, but also provide an intellectual space in which we might consider how our own views are framed and with what perspective.
The cornerstone of the exhibition is Lois Dodd’s painting, Broken Window with View. This painting takes Alberti’s trope literally – a painting of a window where the window’s frame is also the frame of the work – but also challenges the metaphor through alternating planes of pictorial depth and flatness. This visual push and pull guides your eye through the window to the view beyond, and also stops your eye, drawing attention to the fact that the painting is not a window, but rather an object on the wall.
For many of us, the last two years have been largely lived through a variety of windows, from the physical windows in our living and work spaces to the virtual windows on our phones and screens. How has this framing of perspective changed us?
Lois Dodd, Broken Window with View, 1987, Oil on linen. Collection of the Springfield Art Museum. © Lois Dodd /Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY