30 November 2005

Composition #2: Dynamic



Continuing the theme I started yesterday, the topic today is based on one compositional form. We’ve already discussed static composition and the ways stability can be brought into an image. I listed some of the drawbacks to that form, specifically that it is a bit too stable.

Today I’ve got an example of dynamic composition, and though there are plenty of paitings that are dynamically composed, the example today comes from sculpture. And lest you think that dynamic composition is only found in modern works of art, I’ll go ahead and negate that. Dynamic and static are not like new and old or like good and bad. They are simply two different methods of achieving balance.


This is Henry Moore’s Internal and External Forms, a bronze held in the Kunsthalle Mannheim. Unlike the example yesterday that had a specific sense of focal point, Moore’s sculpture doesn’t. To me, the piece looks cyclical. The eye travels from the top left diagonally down to the right, and back through the forms toward the top left. Along this path there are undulations, pits, shadows, layers, and many curves that catch the eye and impeded its progress back toward the top left reach. These impediments disrupt our sense of the overall composition (triangular like the figure groupings in Horatii).

One drawback to dynamic composition is that there isn’t a strong focal point, and sometimes a strong focal point is what’s needed.

Principles of static and dynamic composition form the foundation for the next two discussions. I can’t wait.

4 comments:

Fouad said...

Could it be that the circular motion in this dynamic composition drags you towards it like a whirlpool, hence supplanting the central point of interest with the work in its entirety?

katperkins said...

Not that I think I'm a master at composition, but I hope you didn't want to start teaching this principle b/c my portfolio was that bad. I'm not sure if that made sense. I'm tired.

Mary Ann said...

Kat, absolutely not! It was becuase your portfolio reminded me so much of all the principles that had come up in art history discussions. It just got me thinking about it again. You certainly don't need me to teach you.

Mary Ann said...

Fouad, I think I understand what you are saying. There is certainly something to be said for appreciating the whole work at once, but that approach doesn't always work. I really don't know if Moore wanted viewers getting lost in the details or not.