Erwin Panofsky once described the adamant flatness of early Romanesque pictures as ‘the unconditionally two-dimensional surface of a material picture support’. Here, I contend that such flatness was symptomatic of educated interest in mathematical depiction. Contemporary works such as Gerbert of Aurillac’s Isagoge geometriae show us how abrogation of virtual space accorded with geometric precepts of the time; pictured on a page, solids were naturally represented by the surfaces that composed them. They were ‘abstracted’ in the medieval sense, that is,separated from matter. With this in mind, I look afresh at the early Romanesque conventions—flattened forms, unmodelled and patterned surfaces, heavily delineated contours and intermingling of textual and graphic elements—as expressions of superficiality and traces of tenth-century geometric practice.
|Title of host publication||Abstraction in Medieval Art|
|Subtitle of host publication||Beyond the Ornament|
|Place of Publication||Amsterdam|
|Publisher||Amsterdam University Press|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Feb 2021|