Truth and Perspective: Gadamer on Renaissance Painting

International Yearbook for Hermeneutics 20 (1):286-305 (2021)
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Abstract

This essay develops a critical interpretation of Gadamer’s account of Renaissance painting. My point of departure is a brief reference in Truth and Method to Leon Battista Alberti, the Italian Renaissance humanist who developed an influential mathematical theory of perspective in painting. Through an explication of Gadamer’s critique of Alberti and of perspective generally, I argue that what is ultimately at stake in Gadamer’s confrontation with Alberti is Gadamer’s opposition to relativism and subjectivism and his downgrading of the importance of the artistic medium for evaluating the truth-claim of an artwork. Against the theory of perspective, Gadamer contends that artworks make substantive claims to truth to which we interpretatively respond. By emphasizing this theme, our discussion resonates with contemporary “hermeneutical realism.”

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David Liakos
Houston Community College System

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