ARTH101 Discussion Topic 6: Objective Description of Artistic Principles

Find two works of art from this list of online galleries. The first work should be two-dimensional, and the second should be three-dimensional. For each one, write four sentences describing the artistic principles present in the work. Do not refer to any subject matter. Remember, be objective in your descriptions. Be objective in your descriptions. An example might be “the work makes an abundant use of pattern” or “this work uses asymmetric balance in its composition”.

Then, for each work, write one sentence that describes your subjective reaction. An example might be “the artwork has a dynamic feel to it” or “the scale in this work disorients me”.

To complete this assignment I chose two objects from the Smithsonian Freer Sackler galleries of Asian art because I will be visiting there soon. The first piece is “Birds in a Landscape, Willow Trees, Some Peonies” by Sanraku, painting is Japan 1559 - 1635, Muromachi period. The heavier part of this painting is on the rights, with strong horizontal lines that move us to the boulder in the center which is the focus. The left side is much lighter, having only a few patches of grass. The repetition of the patches of grasses and birds creates a rhythm and flow to the painting. The curvy lines flow into the water, giving the whole piece a soft moving feeling. This pieces gives me the feeling of peacefulness of nature.

The second piece is “Head of a Pharaoh” from 2675 to 2120 BCE, Old Kingdom, Egypt. This piece uses black stone to portray the head of a Pharaoh. The hair is elongated, and the beard is also elongated, giving the piece a strong vertical movement. The eyes are set with gold, making them the clear focus of the piece. The piece is perfectly symmetrical with strong horizontal lines. The effect is to emphasis the wisdom and experience of the Pharaoh.

First work of art: The Babylonian Marriage Market painted in 1875 by Edwin Longsden Long (1829 – 1891), England

The painting is well balanced and symmetrical in design. Repetition of many kinds of elements in the work produce rich patterns and sustained rhythm which carry the viewers’ eyes all around the scene. The illusion of depth is effectively maintained by accuracy of scale and proportions for all elements included in the scene. Although emphasis can be found in different locations, the primary area of visual importance is emphasized by its elevated location and implied lines of sight. Overall, the painting expresses unity in composition and form through the use of a variety of elements incorporated in the work as well as skillful techniques used by the artist.

In my opinion, the artists creates a very effective motion or flow in which the viewer can gaze at the painting in a Z-shaped pattern; for instance, the viewer may start at the bottom right of the painting looking at the least attractive girls, then moving progressively towards the left as the subjects get prettier and prettier, then upwards along the stairs on the right towards the main subject who is currently being bid on, and then to the man on the altar-like piece on the left who is conducting the auction. Alternatively, one can first notice the auctioneer on the left pointing towards the main subject, then the subject, down the stairs to the next girl waiting in the queue, and finally across the front row of girls-in-waiting all the way to the right. All in all, the artist meshes all the principles of design in a superb way which results in a fabulous work of art.

Second work of art: Donatello’s ‘Madonna of the Clouds’ marble relief from about 1425–35, Florence, Italy, URL:

The shallow reliefs carved in Donatello’s ‘Madonna of the Clouds’ create an illusion of depth which produce a picturesque three-dimensional quality to the scene. The illusion of volume is also observable through the reflection of light emanating from multiple angles. The lines throughout the work flow in a rhythmic fashion making for a smooth and natural setting. The scene also rests on uniformity in balance anchored by a symmetrical frame.

The closeness between mother and child is emphasized with deeper reliefs in the Madonna’s profiled face along with her left hand cradling baby Jesus’ arm clutched to her breast. The resulting effect is both harmonious and spiritual.

  • Dan Fournier, 2015-10-21


This piece has massive texture.
The painting is filled with varied lines, curved, both diagonal and vertical, implied and non.
The value is impacting.
The work gives symmetrical balance.
This composition makes me feel hopeful.


Flowing repetition.
The ‘ensemble’ supplies vast emphasis.
The dress exhibits texture.
Value is present in this piece.
This beautiful apparel’s balance, scale unity, and flowing repetition composition makes me feel lovely.

The first work of art I chose that is two dimensional using google images is Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol.

This work includes the use of bold and bright colors, along with much saturation. The bright, bold colors make more emphasis on the features of the person in the artwork. There is also the use of dark tones for shading so the person looks more realistic. There is unity in the bold colors working together in the artwork. The artwork has a sense of boldness and a happy feel to it.

The second artwork I chose that is three dimensional using google images is 3D Art Abstract by David Pyatt.

This artwork is complex in the way it uses color and the design. It is very abstract in the random use of colors. This artwork uses both warm and cool tones. There is also the use of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. This artwork gives a feeling of boldness and randomness.

I chose ‘Study of a Bull,’ by Francis Bacon, and a 20th Century Tibetan statue of the Goddess Green Tara.

These pieces or universes apart in terms of difference. Francis Bacon’s ‘Study of a Bull’ is first of all, an image on a canvas, while the statue is a three dimensional object.

Bacon’s work is highly asymmetrical, however uses this same pattern twice in the work to create a sense of loftiness and movement. The image is placed in the upper left side of the canvas, while the rest of the support is blank. Similary the image itself is a dark bull juxtaposed on a white background, and is placed to the left of the negative space. This creates a sense of unity, and almost seems clearly intentional.

The statue of Green Tara is not so asymmetrical. She is seen sitting in a meditative pose, and her figure is definitely symmetrical. However, she is adorned with myriad decoratives - a sinuous snake undulating up and down the right side of her form, and a sunflower perched atop her left shoulder. What seems to be a bell sits atop her right shoulder, and though not the same shape or form as the flower creates a sense of unity within the composition. She wears a very symmetrical crown, with an expressive ornament above it. Perhaps these items are symbols of her deity, and the elements of mortal life in which she is the Goddess over.

Artwork 1: ‘Festoon of Fruit and Flowers, with Butterflies and Other Insects’ 1670 by Rotius Jacob

The first artwork is a visual composition of a bunch using variety of hues of red, yellow green and blue colours.
It employs the principles of Visual balance and emphasis. It uses hues of primary colours and red is predominant. The composition is linear and the point of emphasis is at the geometric centre of the composition.It has an asymmetrical composition to create a visual tension around the point of emphasis, further strengthening the purpose of drawing the viewers attention towards the subject matter. The point of emphasis has been created by rendering the surrounding objects in contrasting colours and playfully creating the illusion of light.There is also repetition of circular forms in a subtle manner, creating a sense of unity in the asymmetry. Overall this artwork creates a sense of freshness and tranquility at the same time.

Artwork 2: ‘Fixed Standard’ by Jean Luc Moulene, 2107
This sculpture uses the principles of asymmetry, both the halves are non symmetrical.
Repetition is also used here , of the vertical lines. The emphasis is given to the breaking symmetry by change of colour contrasted with the neutral white. The viewer is tricked to visualise the completion of the entire form of object in a virtual manner, thus creating a sense of unity. Because the continuing form and lines are suddenly broken by a different object in the same axis, the sculpture imbibes a sense of motion, of a sense of dynamism.
To me this sculpture creates a sense of transformation frozen in time.