Saturday, March 7, 2015

GEOMETRY IN ART


"Mountain Reflections" in progress, 20" x 20", Lori LaBerge  2015

"Mountain Reflections" is progressing slowly as my right hand heals.  I am constantly changing the way I work according to my hand's ability or inability to maneuver each day.  

Working on proportion and balance in this piece has led me to think about how closely geometry and art are related. Lines, perspective, angles, symmetry, shape and proportion are some of the basics studied in both.  A November trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art led to some good examples.


"Tide", Kenneth Noland, North Carolina Museum of Art

In studying circular shapes the artist may work with radius, circumference and diameter. Sometimes we do not even realize we are working with these aspects of geometry.  We know a circle is symmetrical in shape.  We may deviate with the use of imperfect circles, but they are based on our sense of what a circle is.   


"Matisse Window", George Bireline, North Carolina Museum of Art

Lines, squares and rectangles can be used as the start of a drawing to give shape to something more complex, as when drawing a figure.  They can also be strong shapes on their own in geometric designs as in the color-field work pictured above.

Cubism is often thought of mathematically when viewed due to the cube shapes used in creating that style of work.  Cubist works tend to look sharp and jagged with a strong use of angles.  Picasso and Braque created well-known cubist works.   


Portion of "Raqqa II", Frank Stella, North Carolina Museum of Art

The protractor is a math tool  familiar to anyone who has taken a geometry class. Though I was never much interested in geometry in school, I have often wondered if things would have been different if teachers had related it to art.  Frank Stella created a whole series based on protractors.  He divided protractor shapes, added stripes to them, overlapped them and gave them bright colors.  He pushed away from a singular protractor shape to multiple shapes used together.



"Untitled", Joel Shapiro, North Carolina Museum of Art

Cezanne lived with the belief that simple geometric shapes could be used to portray everything in nature.  It is amazing how the brain can reduce things we see.  The sculpture above gives the feeling of a human figure walking along with the use of four rectangular shapes.


"Gyre", Thomas Sayre, North Carolina Museum of Art

The elliptical shapes in the sculpture pictured above give a sense of movement, similar to a vortex,  as you walk through it.  Many optical illusions are based on mathematical principles.  Op art uses geometric shapes to play with the viewers sense of perception. 

Look at the things around you, break them down into geometric shapes, study artworks to look for use of geometry and have a great day.

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