Statics and dynamics
Illustration 1 shows two lines. Do they contrast with each other? No, they are both black and run in the same direction. But then at a certain point one of them changes direction and we obtain a drawing as shown in illustration 2. Something began to happen. We now observe the contrast between a line that runs in a vertical direction and a line in a horizontal position. If we can see a contrast it means that a composition must have formed.
Illustration 1 Illustration 2
3. THEO VAN DOESBURG
The rhythm of Russian dance
And now let`s compare our drawing with the illustration on the left (illustration 3). It is made up of straight lines, that differ from each other only because they run in other directions.
4. Parthenon on the acropolis in Athens
447 - 432 BC
How about talking of something different for a change? Architecture. Here is one of the sanctuaries (illustration 4) of ancient Greece. Look carefully at the illustration and next look again at the drawing with the lines. The contrast that we see in this building is also a contrast of directions: the vertical columns contrast with the horizontal balks that lie on top of them.
5. PAUL GAUGUIN
The Yellow Christ
Now we will return to painting. The Yellow Christ is a painting of a French artist (illustration 5). It shows women from Bretagne who are praying near Jesus` cross. That is what the subject of the painting is. But what we want to analise is its form and most of all the direction contrast that appears in it.
Well, approximately in the centre of the painting runs from top till bottom a vertical axis and it is marked with the vertical part of Jesus` cross and Christ himself. We also have horizontal axes, marked with the horizontal part of the cross and the fields and meadows. If we were to mark the horizontal and vertical directions of the painting they would cross at a right angle. The Yellow Christ is an example of use of static composition.
Now look closely at the drawing below (illustration 6). It presents a few geometrical figures. What can you tell about them?
We could call them stains of various sizes, shapes, colours or we could state that between them there is a contrast of size, shape and colour. This is all fine, but as it appears it still isn`t enough for a proper painting to be formed. Placed in such a way as on our drawing they look monotonous. They remain indifferent towards each other. To obtain a painting it is necessary to have a contrast in the position of the stains on the surface of the canvas. Below you will be able to see what the artist did with our figures (illustration 7).
7. AUGUSTE HERBIN
Again we can say: something started happening. A dynamical composition has formed. The circles, half-circles and two golden triangles are in a slanting position. So we have contrasts in the sizes of stains, their shapes, colours, but also a contrast in their positions, directions. The sum of all these contrasts formed a painting.
Now you know that we use verticals and horizontals to express stillness in art, while slanting lines are used to express movement and nervousness.
Here you have two abstract paintings. Try to find which one is dynamic.
8. FRANTISEK KUPKA
Vertical planes I
9. UMBERTO BOCCIONI