As we walk down the street, whether we’re in Florence or Fort Worth, we tend to look straight ahead. Of course we do this because it’s the most comfortable way of moving, but we also know that a darting gaze can distract us from the wonders right in front of us. What we see—and what we then surmise from that—changes depending on where we’re standing. Taking something in from the garden-variety Florentine ground won’t be the same as observing it from a bridge; neither of these will feel quite like looking down at something from the steps of San Miniato al Monte or the piazzale Michelangelo. But really, what’s so bad about distractions, anyway? What if, moving our gazes to new heights and perspectives, the different “distractions” that we catch sight of help us find new things of interest to us? New colors? New (to us) paintings, plaques, peculiarities?
Once upon a time, Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone—later known as one Masaccio—was born in San Giovanni Valdarno, near Florence. He would go on to propel the art world forward by refining linear perspective and using vanishing points to achieve imagery that was more true-to-life than what dominate. One key example of this can be seen in his striking “Holy Trinity” fresco, located in Santa Maria Novella in Florence.