Art Concept: Balance (Symmetry/Asymmetry)
Balance: a principle of design; the arrangement of elements that makes individual parts of a composition appear equally important; an arrangement of the elements to create an equal distribution of visual weight throughout the format or composition. If a composition appears top- or bottom-heavy and/or anchored by weight to one side, it is not visually balanced.
Types of balance:
Show students symmetrical and non-symmetrical balance and talk about how color, size, position, line, etc. can create asymmetrical balance in a composition. Show students the images below and talk about the balance in each piece of art. Is it asymmetrical or symmetrical? What makes the balance in the asymmetrical works?
World Trade Center, 1970s. symmetrical
Coronation of the Virgin, Enguerran Quarton (Dutch), 1454. symmetrical
Westreich Family, Alice Neel (American), 1978. asymetrical but balanced
Sistine Madonna, Raphael (Italian), 1513. asymetrical but balanced
St. Matthew, Caravaggio (Italian). asymetrical but balanced
Chartes Cathedral (1140) and Riems Cathedral (1254). one is symmetrical, one asymmetrical
Beast of the Sea, Matisse (French), 1950. symmetrical
Crowded Globe, Zhen Xuen (China), 1991. symmetrical
The Expulsion of Heliodorus, Delacroix (French), 1856. asymetrical but balanced
Eyclidean Walks, Magritte (French), 1955. look closely, asymetrical
How Will Our Future Be? Donatella Zenotti (Italy), 1991. diagonally symmetrical
Mosaic floor in Kirbatal Mafjar, Palestine, 8thc. symmetrical
Two Women at the Window, Murillo (Spanish), 1670. asymmetrical but balanced
North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock (American), 1959. asymmetrical but balanced
Peruvian Feather Blanket (Nazca), 3rd or 4thc. symmetrical
The Visitation, Piero di Cosimo (Italian), 1490. almost symmetrical, but asymmetrical and balanced.
The Artist’s Mother, Whistler, 1871. asymmetrical but balanced
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