Devices for Representing Space

Foreshortening: angled, partially distorted, views of bodies (or other objects) in space.


 In Hans Baldung Grienís The Groom and the Witch, c.1540, the body of the man lying paralyzed on the floor, is shown at an odd angle, along an orthogonal. From that angle, his feet are extra large, thighs large, chest deflated and head too small to see. This adjustment in the manís body proportions create the illusion of the backward extension of his body. As mentioned earlier, objects are perceived as diminishing in size as they are further away, even within a body Ė horse or human. Even though the body may, as a result, look totally distorted or inhuman (especially if he stood up and we saw him from another angle), this again is true to the actual perception of objects in our world. Foreshortening also gives information as to the location of the artist/viewer. For us to see him at that angle with those orthogonals in the room, we would need to be standing near to his feet with our eyes at the level of the horseís butt.