Vanishing Point

Vanishing point – “the point at which something that has been growing smaller or increasingly faint disappears altogether.” In art, “that point toward which receding parallel lines appear to converge.”

vanishing point

These images were taken on a fall day on the way to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in south central Kansas near Stafford. The vanishing point is easily observed by following the road to a point slightly above the horizon. Note that the tree lines also converge to this point, though less distinctly.


The principle is apparent every time we drive down a long highway. On summer days, the heat of the road seemingly makes the road disappear before reaching the end. Railroad tracks are another spot to observe parallel lines converge to a point. Why are we fascinated by vanishing points? Does it lie in the question of whether life fades away, or converges to a point, beyond which we can only wonder?



vanishing point

In 1435, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), wrote down the theory of linear perspective, in his book, On Painting. First, an artist creates a “floor” (a stage on which objects will be placed) and draws a receding grid, a guide to the relative scale of all elements of the picture. The squares of the grid recede in size until disappearing.


Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) in his painting The Last Supper (circa 1495), used Alberti’s grid to create a vanishing point at the head of Christ. Just follow the lines in the wooden beams of the ceiling to the vanishing point. Image Wikipedia.




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