The Space of Drawing
The Place of Art in Modern Philosophy's Thinking of the Visible
In this essay we engage with Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s claim as it is articulated in his famous last work, ‘Eye and Mind’, that Descartes’ account of space derived from the Renaissance art of perspective. We argue that not only is this account of space an essential element of Cartesian metaphysics, but that it plays a key role in modern philosophy and modern science. In part our aim is to underscore Merleau-Ponty’s recognition of the part that art plays in the genesis of the modern conception of space. However, we also argue that by way of this recognition, Merleau-Ponty seeks to release us from the limitations of this conception of space and the view of the human subject it entails, and return us to the world upon which the acts of drawing and painting draw, namely the ambiguous world of perception replete with creative potential.
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