Shadows: In Nature, Life & Art

Shadows: In Nature, Life & Art

by William Vaughan
Shadows: In Nature, Life & Art

Shadows: In Nature, Life & Art

by William Vaughan


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What's the difference between a cast shadow and a form shadow? Why do shadows become increasingly important in Western art? Can we only ever see shadows, not objects themselves, as Plato claimed? In this beautiful little book, printmaker and History of Art Professor William Vaughan presents the history of shadows, from their emergence in the visuals arts to their association with death and the subconscious. Get ready! You may never look at the world the same way again! WOODEN BOOKS. Small books, BIG ideas. Tiny but packed with information.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781952178245
Publisher: Wooden Books
Publication date: 07/01/2021
Series: Wooden Books North America Editions
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.33(d)

About the Author

William Vaughan is one of the world's leading historians of Romantic Art. Currently Emeritius Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck College, University of London, he also lives in Somerset.

Read an Excerpt

What is a shadow? It is an area of darkness, caused when an object obstructs a ray of light. In the figure on the title page, a sphere and a cube are casting shadows caused by them obstructing a light source from the top left. As light travels in straight lines, it cannot curve around an object that it strikes. It therefore passes on either side. The space behind the object remains dark, as does the side of the object not facing the light. Shadow is intimately related to light. It is the alternative—the yin to the yang of illumination. Together they form one of the elemental dualities in the universe, opposites that need each other to make their character apparent. Shadows are vital to the way we see. Indeed, our whole being as humans has been fundamentally conditioned by our perception of them. It is believed that mammals first developed sensitivity to shadows because they lived in forests for protection. We humans have long since ceased to need such cover to survive, but our mammalian eyes still have the capability to perceive many of the subtleties of darkness. This book looks at the nature of shadows and the importance they have for us. It covers shadows in the natural world and in our imaginations. It also looks at how artists have learnt to use shadows, both to master the effects of realistic representation, and as a means of expression and exploration.

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