Sunday, August 31, 2008
Leading Art Historian Michael Baxandall Dies at 74
“A 15th-century painting is the deposit of a social relationship.”
-Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in 15th-Century Italy, 1972
According to William Grimes in the New York Times, Baxandall in his ground breaking work of art history,Painting and Experience in 15th-Century Italy , " laid bare not only the patron-client transactions that influenced the making of an artwork, but also something he called the period eye: the act of perception determined by social circumstances. In a famous example, he showed how Italians knew how to appraise the volume of a barrel by sight, and how artists played to this carefully cultivated skill."
“Baxandall provided the tools we needed to take works of art out of the frame and off the pedestal to see how they really worked,” said Thomas Crow, a professor of modern art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. “Baxandall made it possible to see, through the art, how societies organized themselves and, conversely, how individuals perceived their own experiences and inner lives.”
New York Times on Baxandall