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Dominion of the Eye

Dominion of the Eye
Urbanism, Art, and Power in Early Modern Florence

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  • Date Published: June 2008
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521728256


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About the Authors
  • Dominion of the Eye: Urbanism, Art and Power in Early Modern Florence radically revises our ideas about the origins of rationally planned public space in the European city. Through a spatial and historical analysis of the major squares of Florence, all built in the Trecento, together with primary civic monuments, Marvin Trachtenberg shows that, contrary to current belief, Florentine planners engaged in a theoretically sophisticated mode of practice. In these squares, geometrically structured perspectival views of the principal monuments were established long before Alberti and other Renaissance theorists may have promoted such planning. Trachtenberg demonstrates that this urbanistic scenography, deeply informed by medieval optical science, was closely allied with perspectival developments in architecture, painting, and sculpture, forming a unified visual culture that was highly attentive to the eye of the spectator. An analysis of the critical role of the piazza in the Florentine sociopolitical field reveals how the art of the piazza was part of state practice as a work of art. Including more than 50 new drawings and 200 illustrations, Dominion of the Eye challenges many of the cardinal truisms in the art history of the Renaissance, offering a new model for understanding the art of Italy in the early modern era.

    • Radically original and comprehensive analysis of urbanistic practice in the pre-Renaissance period
    • Deeply contextual study of the intersection of art and politics of a period and a city central to European history and culture
    • More than 50 new analytic drawings illustrating the planning of Florentine squares, and almost 200 photographs, mostly unpublished
    Read more


    • Winner of the Hitchcock Book Prize, awarded by the Society of Architecture Historians

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521728256
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 279 x 215 x 20 mm
    • weight: 1.24kg
    • contains: 253 b/w illus.
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. History and Theory:
    1. Florence brought to historical account
    2. Toward the Trecento Florentine piazza: problematics
    Part II. From Theory to Practice:
    3. The Piazza del Duomo
    4. The Piazza della Signoria
    Part III. Framing Urbanistic Discourse: Space, Subject and Vision in Trecento Theory and the Arts:
    5. Spatial theory
    6. The spatial order of Florentine streets, monumental architecture, and the new towns
    7. Trecento pictorial perspective reconsidered
    8. Perspective in Trecento sculpture and architectural detail
    9. The Trecento fusion of the arts
    10. The architecture of painting and the multimedia tableau
    11. The role of optical and surveying theory
    Part IV. On The Politics of Urbanistic Order:
    12. The political logic of demolition
    13. Spatial form and political authority
    14. The symbolic power of scopic order
    15. Florentine Trecento urbanism as institutional and ideological praxis II
    16. The Florentine urbanistic 'style' as bourgeois instrumentalism
    17. Resistance and Renaissance: an afterword.

  • Author

    Marvin Trachtenberg, New York University
    Marvin Trachtenberg is Edith Kitzmiller Professor of the History of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Art, New York University. A recipient of fellowships from the Kress Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and Villa I Tatti, he is the author of The Campanile of Florence Cathedral,'Giotto's Tower', and coauthor of Architecture from Prehistory to Postmodernism.


    • Winner of the Hitchcock Book Prize, awarded by the Society of Architecture Historians
    • Winner of the Charles Rufus Morey Award, awarded by the College Art Association

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