The function of representing reality through linear perspective and perspective drawing has been questioned since the rise of contemporary Western paintings. In the early stage of his career, Merleau-Ponty believed that linear perspective was a product of objective thinking, and that it cut off the line of intention between the body-subject and the perceived world, turning the live object into a concrete lifeless entity. As he moved on to explore the expressive behavior of body-subject, Merleau-Ponty gradually recognized that linear perspective was not equal to mechanical reproduction and the essence of perspective drawing was the hidden transformation of the perceived world through body perception and expression. Despite multiple defects in the perception of perspective, perspective drawing manages to achieve a true expression of the perceived world by establishing a system of equivalence. In his later works, from the dimension of ontology of flesh, Merleau-Ponty further confirmed the truthfulness of perspective drawing in representing the perceived world. He admitted that perspective drawing might be regarded as a special case and a phase in the presentations of Being, and yet such approaches were insufficient in expressing the depth of Being. In short, Merleau-Ponty demonstrated the authenticity of perspective drawing convincingly from the perspective of body perception and sorted out the relationship between perspective drawing and modern painting. However, he tended to overemphasize the phenomenological purport of painting and underplayed the technical dimension of creative painting.
linear perspective, objective thinking, body perception, flesh, depth of Being
Zhang, Xiaodong. 2024. "A Study of the Development of Merleau-Ponty's Theory of Perspective Drawing." Theoretical Studies in Literature and Art 43, (6): pp.111-121. https://tsla.researchcommons.org/journal/vol43/iss6/13