Friday, January 08, 2010

Another Look At an El Greco Painting and his Metaphysical Proportioning of its Canvas

In every painting I've investigated by the artist, El Greco, a 16th century Spanish painter I've found these hidden grids determining the proportions of his canvases. Seems that this grid making was this extra step he took. No other artist did this. Not to my knowledge. In my readings about El Greco I've found no scholars taking notice of what I've found. I used reproductions, tracing paper, and a straight edge when I made the first study of one of his canvases. Every single reproduction showed that the grid making was essential ordinal first step in the preparation that went into the designing of his compositions.

Proportions came first. It wasn't just one or two, but all I came across ranging across decades.

As far as I have discerned in my investigations he was the only painter to take this extra step. That is to say all European artists were using vanishing points and perspective geometry to create illusions of three dimensions, but not for the purposes El Greco had. He was harmonizing the shapes of his canvases, creating 'platonic' proportions, metaphysical proportions. He was pent on finding in geometry the most appropriate formats for representing the sacred images that his choice of subject matter required.

WIth a straight edge and a copy of a reproduction of his painting, I analyzed the given shape. I started with drawing the diagonals of the rectangle. At first glance Christ Healing the Blind and Laocoon seem very much alike. But the grid revealed the differences.

Nor did I suspect I could derive a triangle grid from the rectangle grid I started with. Nor that from the triangle grid there was also a square hidden also in the Laocoon. A recent slide show I put together illustrates the whole process, shows step-by step how one grid precedes the next. El Greco did not have a computer and the software I am now using. He did all the way Pythagorus did it.

What astonishes me, blows my mind is that I may be the only person who knows about this.

El Greco's vision of reality is existential and Platonistic. His secret use of ancient Greek geometric planar grids served an essential purpose. His was of such a mysticism in which only such a methodology enabled him to incorporate Golden Rectangles in his depictions of what he held was sublimely sacred.

This kind of alchemy he kept secret. He would never allow it to be guessed at or discovered.

It accounts not only for the proportioning of his canvases, but also for the distinctly singular and unique distortions he employed in his representations of the human figures!