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3D on Canvas

The physical world around us is made of up three dimensions, but the same cannot be said for representations on the flat surface of an art canvas. Although our visual systems are highly developed and very sensitive to 3D information, artists did not commonly represent the third dimension on canvas until the Renaissance period. Whereas sculpting has always been a 3D art form since real-world materials used to create sculptures (typically clay) are inherently three-dimensional, applying paint to a flat canvas always produces two-dimensional art.

An artist cannot, for example, reach deep into a canvas and place a brush stroke of paint far away from the viewer, any more than he can apply paint in mid-air to allow some brush strokes to appear closer to the viewer than others. Instead, every brush stroke is applied to a canvas on the same plane, where only the height and width vary. As a result, painting is by its very nature a two-dimensional art form.


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