"A moment's monument": The central vision of Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso (1858 - 1928)

David Melcher, Francesca Bacci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


One of the basic limitations on visual perception is that it is impossible, in any given moment, to see the world sharply and full of colors beyond the central area of the visual field. This fact was popularized and brought to the attention of artists in the nineteenth century. To accurately represent the 'impression', or vision of a single glance, an artistic work should contain only a central area in focus surrounded by a progressively greater blur. The work of the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso (1858 - 1928) may be the first artistic representation of differences in central and peripheral acuity. Despite using the medium of sculpture, typically three-dimensional, Rosso conceived of his art as two-dimensional because in a given moment it is possible to view a scene from only one viewpoint. The analysis of Rosso's photographs of his own sculptures emphasizes the areas of detail and relative blur, allowing a reconstruction of his point de vue unique - where the observer should stand when viewing that specific sculpture. We argue that the role of central and peripheral vision in subjective perception is critical to understanding the work of Rosso, aptly defined by critics as monument d'un instant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1058
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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