Picture plane

DEFINITION

A term applied to the visual elements of a painting that are in the viewer???s most direct line of sight, usually the foreground. The word ???plane??? is used because the subject is often compared to a window separating viewers from the images. Shapes in a painting intended to appear in three-dimensional space are said to be behind the picture plane, and those in the foreground are in front of the picture plane. Working in relation to the picture plane, the artist achieves perspective by arranging objects behind the picture plane in smaller sizes to create a sense of distance and larger to suggest foreground. In much modernist or abstract art, traditional rules of working with the picture plane are violated, and often there are visual distortions such as looming, out-of-scale objects in the foreground. The concept, which relates to an imaginary surface of a painting, originated during the Renaissance and led to much exploration of techniques to achieve perspective. Sources: Ralph Mayer, ???A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques???; Robert Atkins, ???Art Speak???.<br><br> The flat surface on which an image is painted, and that part of the image which is closest to the viewer. (In modern and contemporary art, the picture plane is synonymous with pictorial surface, meaning that the entire image is located on the picture plane, as contrasted with art from the Renaissance until the mid-19th century, where the picture surface was considered as a window into which the viewer looked into the illusion of distance.)<br><br>In perspective, the plane (a flat level) occupied by the surface of the picture ? its frontal boundary. When there is any illusion of depth in the picture, the picture plane is similar to a plate of glass behind which pictorial elements are arranged in depth. Artists indicate the supposed distance of subjects beyond the picture plane through the use of changes in the sizes of things, the ways they overlap each other, and (when subjects are placed on the depicted ground, as opposed to flying above it) by positioning them on the area taken up by the depicted floor, ground, or a body of water. Abstract Expressionists worked directly on the plane itself, unconcerned with recession in depth.

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