Posts Tagged ‘stability’


Let’s have a closer look at one of the paintings in that show at the Ethical Humanist Society: acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30,”  by Robert Frankel.  We might call it Keep It Moving.

Isn’t that what happens when you look at this?  Your eye and mind are restless, moving all the time.

How can that be?  There’s no narration, no hint of horses on the beach or racecars taking a curve or birds in flight.  The whole composition is nothing but rectangles, all placed solidly and stodgily on one of their sides.  Nothing tips, everything says STABILITY.  But does it?  If the composition were stable, you’d doze off.  Instead, your mind is jumpin’ as it does when you listen to jazz.

These rectangles are flat, you say, isn’t that what rectangles are, flat?  Yes, they are flat.  But, if they’re flat, how is it that this image draws you in to puzzle out your sense of depth?

And what is that white rectangle with the thin horizontal black one doing there in the midst of all this popping color?  Imagine this white/black thing in any other color combination.  See? Gotcha!



All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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Could the artist/student, Patty Cohen, add more paint, scrape some off, glue raw canvas onto the surface, punch a hole….?  Of course, all sorts of things can be done to this image at any stage of its development.  But, it was declared finished in the last class of Spring term.  “Finished” means “resolved.”   Nobody can explain exactly what “resolved” means, but the artist knows—and feels the resolution.
The rich texture cannot be duplicated here.  I just want to point to the dynamic of its composition:  zigzag plus stability.


The three black areas (connected by yellow lines in my analysis) move the eye to read a triangle firmly planted on a 13PattyCohenRedBlackFinalLside that is parallel to the bottom edge of the canvas.  That imparts a feeling of stability, which makes for a solid context in which the zigzags can go wild (blue, green).  Notice also that the upper left section is not as tame as it may at first appear.  It’s in muted tones, but is sectioned (pink) in such a way that its forms converge towards the middle.  This subtle focus also adds to the sense of stability—we like looking at the center of a painting.

Y13PattyCohenRedBlackFinalRou would think that such a turbulent composition would work in another orientation.  If you rotate the canvas, however, you’ll see that the other three orientations don’t work.  My sense is that this is due to the three black areas, which we prefer in the form a triangle (yellow) that’s firmly grounded.

Congratulations, Patty!

A13PattyCohenRedBlackFinalFlipll contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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