Cultures of Vision
Pages 102

Beginning in the seventeenth century and continuing weIl into the twentieth,roughly from Vermeers Art of Painting (Figure 1) to Picasso's many self-portrairs,'a succession of European painters has taken the studio as the world. Or, put differentlv, the studio is where the world as it gets into painting is experienced. This was not true of European art before and is not true in other pictorial traditions, such as those of Asia. The oddity of this assumption and the pictorial cancerns and constraints it entails have not been specifically recognized or defined as such. For one thing, the art ist's immediate experience in the workplace is rarely represented in a pure state. Many other factors--eonventions of realistic representation, relationship to clients and the marketplace, the nature of display-go into the making and viewing of paintings that are informed by it . More importantly, while practices in it exhibit consistent traits, the studio ambience has not lent itself to the kind of discursive claims that have developed, for example, about the pictorial constructions known as perspective. The realities of the studio are elusive, but they are also determining and astonishingly long-lived in European painting. By looking at paintings made both of

Figure I . l an Vermeer. Th c An of Patnnng, ca. 1665, oilIm ccmns. 120 an x 100 an . Vienna, Kunsthistorisches MllSeum.