Florensky's Reverse Perspective between Kultbild and Kunstbild

In this article, Fabian Heffermehl explores how alternative ideas of perception in Renaissance painting relate to Pavel Florensky’s cultural criticism.

Black text on white background. Front page of the journal "Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte"
Photo: Deutscher Kunstverlag

Denouncing the cyclopean vision

With his Reverse Perspective (1919) the Armeno-Russian theologian and mathematician Pavel Florensky denounced the monocular, ‘cyclopean’ vision otherwise seen as the main principle in Renaissance painting. Florensky connected the medieval icon with an ‘organic idea’ involving binocular vision, the observer’s movement in pictorial space, and tactile proximity between observer and image.

Reverse perspective

In this article, Fabian Heffermehl explores how ideas of perception relate to Florensky’s cultural criticism: His reverse perspective emerges as a complex controversy, not only between two principles in painting – the icon and the linear perspective. Florensky also challenges himself as a westernized intellectual, who, rooted in Orientalism, fails to defend a Russian Orthodox worldview.


The publication is available at De Gruyter.

By Fabian Heffermehl
Published Sep. 29, 2019 1:49 PM - Last modified Sep. 29, 2019 1:49 PM