The New Renaissance: Part 1 Continued

The New Renaissance: Part 1 Continued

Pomm has been a successful exhibiting artist for 40 years. She knows the ins and outs of the business and has a passion to keep art and artists thriving and continuing to bring aesthetics into the world. Today Pomm continues her series of articles revealing her research into what makes a true master artsit, delving further into last month's subject: Composition.

As you may remember, there are four elements that make a true master.

This month we have been concentrating on compositions. This is a very key element to making a piece of art from just a piece of art to enhancing the aesthetics to the quality of our true masters.

"The term 'composition' denotes the overall arrangement of a work of art. In order to describe the composition of a painting (for instance), one must identify the parts the painting is composed of (e.g. figures, buildings, natural features), and then describe how those parts are arranged." (Essential Humanities)

Below is some further information that delineates what these true masters use. This will help spot the masters today, as they have brought back this level of aesthetics.

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Visual Composition

Introduction

The term "composition" denotes the overall arrangement of a work of art. In order to describe the composition of a painting (for instance), one must identify the parts the painting is composed of (e.g. figures, buildings, natural features), and then describe how those parts are arranged.

Pyramidal vs. Dynamic Composition

Two of the most prominent approaches to visual composition are the pyramidal composition of High Renaissance painting and the dynamic composition of Baroque painting (see Western Aesthetics). Pyramidal composition focuses strongly on unity, while dynamic composition is primarily concerned with contrast.

Pyramidal Composition

Pyramidal Composition
Credit: Essential Humanities

The figures in Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks are arranged such that the "pinnacle" of the painting (Mary's head) is flanked by figures to either side and to the fore. The arrangement of these figures is characterized by symmetry and balance. A sense of stability is achieved, and the eye is naturally drawn to a single point (Mary's face). In terms of colour, the patches of bluish sky in the upper part of the painting are balanced with the bluish robes in the lower part; other colours are likewise balanced.

Baroque Composition

Baroque Composition
Credit: Essential Humanities

Ruben's Raising of the Cross, on the other hand, features diagonal configurations of figures. The overall arrangement is characterized by asymmetry and imbalance. A strong sense of dynamism (a sense that the painting is "in motion") results as the eye is drawn restlessly along each line. Note also the unbalanced use of colour; for instance, while the left and centre panel feature a dark background, the right panel is set against a light sky.

Unity vs. Contrast

A sense of unity can be achieved through repetition of parts, as well as balanced arrangement of parts. Likewise, a sense of contrast can be achieved by using sharply different parts, and by arranging those parts in an unbalanced manner.

Arguably, all great art must strike a balance between unity and contrast. Unity is like an engine (stable and carefully structured), while contrast is like the burning fuel inside the engine (active and uncontrolled). An engine without fuel won't run; likewise, a work of art with "excessive unity" is mechanical and dull. Conversely, fuel without an engine will simply burn out of control; likewise, a work of art with "excessive contrast" is messy and directionless.

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Here are some examples of other artists using composition:

Dancers at the Opera by Edgar Degas, http://www.adammarelliphoto.com

Pedestal by Christina Troufa, http://artsyforager.com

Nikau Hindin, https://www.studentartguide.com

ML,

Pomm 🍎

Visual Composition. (2018). Essential Humanities. Retrieved from http://www.essential-humanities.net/art-supplementary/visual-composition/

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