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Assignment: choose one work of art from the textbook or from any other source and analyze it based on Chapter 5. You will need to cover its:
- Unity and Variety
- Emphasis and Subordination
- Scale and Proportion
In this assignment your choice of which work to analyze is critical. The work you choose should display at least 4 of the principals of design described
I chose this work and attached below: Pablo Picasso. Girl Before a Mirror. 1932. Oil on canvas, 5′4″ × 4′31⁄4″.
Remedios Varo, The Creation of The Birds, 1957
- Unity and Variety
The elements of art that unify this work are the limited palette of browns and grays, the repetitive design of the tiles on the floor, the plain walls that create a backround to the main scene at the foreground, and the repetitive paterns of the feathers of the creator-bird.
The elements that create variety in the work are all the different details and various objects, such as the central figure, the desk, the paint-machine (assistant? paint robot?), the chest at the back, the violin, the little birds flying away etc. They all create interest and ask the viewer to try to understand the enigma of creation.
The balance here is assymetrical. The creator bird is located off the center. Her (or his?) large light shape, together with the little paint-machine (robot?) create a balance to the strong pull of the two dark windows on the top right. While the entire composition in assymetrical, there are details in it that are symmetrical, which create a sense of order and purpose. There are the two dark windows on the right hand, the symmetrical face and body of the bird, the two jars at the back wall and the top and bottom part of the paint machine are all symmetrical or close to symmetrical.
- Emphasis and Subordination
Many lines in the work are leading the eye toward the center where the little bird is being created. The lines of the light that comes from heaven and go through the magnifier glass lead there, The line of the tube that comes out of the wall and into the paint-machine that pours the primary colors into the artist’s pallete leads there, the right hand of the creator-bird and the gaze of the creator-bird lead there. Additionally, the line that leads from the violin attached to the creator-bird chest also lead us there. This area is also the lightest than the background so it’s more emphasized.
In order for the focal point to stand out and attract attention, some other areas of the painting are subordinated. They are less important. The walls are very empty and with monochromatic muted brownish coloring. Seems like the creator is sitting at night in a studio or alchemist lab or even a monestary. Also the floor has a repetitive pattern that is subordinated to all the action above.
Scale and Proportion
The main figure is a composed creature part bird part human. The size of that figure seems to be a size of a person, while the birds being created are fully birds and their size appears to be the normal size of birds. The different in scale between the artist/creator bird and the birds that are being created elevates the importance of the creator-bird to a level of “god” or “goddess”. The paint-machine assistant is smaller than the creator bird but larger than the little birds. While the body of the creator bird appears human – except for the feathers, it is the large owl-like rings around the eyes that make it look like a composite creature that is not fully human nor bird. The head is enlarged and has the shape of a heart. Possibly having a message about the necessity of love in the moment of cration.
The elements that create rhythm here are the repetitive arches, circles and squares. The arches and the circles are mostly at the upper part of the composition – bringing to mind a divine influence. The two windows on the right, ceiling arches and roun window, as well as the round eyes of the creator bird create a relaxed rhythm that unify the composition. The squares on the floor are more repetitive and the rhythm is more organized and regular. However, since they are slanted it doesn’t appear stable but rather dynamic. The act of creation is one that requires both stability and action.
Another element that create rhythm is the feathers of the creator bird. They are repeating in a close texturized design all over the body of the creator. It adds mystery to the scene as the viewer is attracted to explore them and understand if it’s a costume or real feathers.