David Kim

David Kim

Robert Lehman Fellow
Groundwork: Figure, Ground, and Pictorial Composition in the Renaissance Picture



David Young Kim is Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting lecturer at the University of Zurich. He is the author of The Traveling Artist in the Italian Renaissance (2014) and the editor of Matters of Weight: Force, Gravity, and Aesthetics in Early Modern Art (2013).

Project Summary


This research project seeks to develop a model for thinking about the early modern picture from the viewpoint of the ground—the field in and around which figuration occurs. Beginning with gold grounds in the fourteenth century and concluding with the darkened grounds of Baroque tenebrism, Groundwork explores how painters embraced the multiple meanings and possibilities of ground (referred to in the sources as campo, or field) to achieve compositional and narrative aims.