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Ben Johnson: An Artist’s Perspective

Take a tour of the collection with artist Ben Johnson – discover how painters throughout history have constructed architecture and space.

Antonello da Messina, 'Saint Jerome in his Study', about 1475

Ben Johnson: An Artist's Perspective
Antonella da Messina, 'Saint Jerome in his Study' – 2 mins 17 secs


Ben Johnson: Here we have a portrait of a man in his study: somebody that is in quiet contemplation of books, knowledge and of philosophy.

To the right and left we have views; we have views to the outside world. But to enter his study, we have to go through a frame. He is put within a very firm setting: there is a geometric floor which goes back in space and creates the illusion. But it is just an illusion, and that is what so much perspective is about. It’s about creating an illusion, but an illusion which is based in the reality of mathematics and divine proportion.

When we look at the work of science and many painters from around the Italian Renaissance, they’re actually transcending the material. And what we have is architecture often being portrayed to be a reference to the material world. But the events that are going on, in and around that architecture is often transcending. It is from the world of the spiritual.

Ben Johnson explains how Antonella employed mathematics and divine proportion to create an image that transcends the material world.

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