Friday, 8 April 2011

An ODE to CONTRAST (verse 1)

Peripheral vision may be our greatest weapon against ignorance.  Often your eyes don't need to stray more than an inch before they bump into a view of reality that is startlingly different from your own:

Matter and antimatter coexist in this catalog of classes from the Learning Annex
Of course, we can't always rely on our peripheral vision.  Sometimes we have to seek out contrasting views.   For example, if you were a young woman with artistic talent in the 1950s, you might find this type of ad quite persuasive:
Just look at my art director!
But unless you took the extra effort to read magazines for the opposite sex, you might never realize that the same art schools were wooing your male counterparts with a very different set of promises:

Do you like Art?

This may explain why some people argue with considerable lucidity on behalf of the virtues of blinders.

But for me, I'd say that in art-- as in life-- contrast is one of your very best friends.  Elements of a picture set in opposition to each other can heighten the effect of the whole.  The task of balancing opposing elements forces us to develop more complex and sensitive vocabularies, to register shades of meaning.  With these vocabularies we flesh out a more profound range of thoughts and feelings.  Contrast is the place where the enriching force is born.

By selecting the right locations between the top and the bottom of the musical scale, Beethoven composed symphonies. By selecting the right places between the top and bottom of the value scale, artists compose pictures. The aesthetic character of a line may be determined by an artist's selections on the continuum between rough and smooth, or delicate and bold.

This week will be my ode to contrast.  Each day I am going to post an example of a different type of contrast in picture making.  Let's see if we can have some fun.

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