Hi everyone! Ready for more shape analysis??
Here are two more insights from Arnheim's book:
1. Broken shapes are mended across spatial distance by similarity of color. I created the left and upper right studies to illustrate this principle. The whole shape (left) was separated into pieces spaced apart (right). Because they are the same color the mind wants to put the shapes back together again into a circle. This is a useful principle in painting, because broken shapes are far more interesting than whole shapes, and we can let the viewer's mind put them back together to suggest a single shape.
I think that Marcel Duschamp's painting Nude Descending Staircase #2 (left) is a good example of this principle. The figure is broken into a number of geometric shapes of similar color, and our mind wants to put them all back together to see a whole body on each step descending the stairs.
2. Difference in color is counteracted by similarity of shape. The study on the right shows the same four shapes, but they are different colors. These similar shapes unite the painting. If all the shapes were both different colors and different in shape, there would be no unity. So, as Arnheim point out, similar shapes (unity) counteract the effects of different colors (disunity).
A good example of this principle is the Three Sphinxes of Bikini by Salvador Dali. Here, the same "head" is painted three times. Although the scale of the heads changes as they recede into the distance, the shape is still the same. The difference is in the color and slight internal changes in the form as it gets smaller. The similar shape of the three heads unites the painting and the differences make it more interesting. If all three heads were identical in color to the largest one, the painting would be far less interesting - almost monotonous.
I'm not going to compare myself to the greatness of Dali or Duschamp, but I will use my humble painting to illustrate that I've used a number of different colors in this pianting and have counteracted that effect by using similar shapes to create unity.
Quote for the day: When I haven't any blue I use red. - Pablo Picasso