What we like to look at (and why)?

In the 18th century, Hogarth said curvy lines made the best art. Was he right and could we prove it with an equation?

August 07, 2023

Mondrian and Van Gogh pictures
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Christine Evans-Pughe's avatar

Thank you Peter, for your (as always) deeply insightful comments. The comparison with the line of beauty in calligraphy and music is fascinating.  Music - as you say -  the listener knows when and whether the line has been achieved. But underlying that is the composer’s invention. So it’s partly similar to art except the composer and practitioner are one and the same. Similar to art, in music there are the nuances of particularly fine and expressive lines, which are so dependent on human skill. A fascinating subject.

Christine Evans-Pughe - 2023 03 13

This is a particularly interesting article about lines and beauty.  I previously had no idea that the field of aesthetics has long since been analyzing and proposing objective criteria for the measurement of beauty.  I can suggest two closely related fields where the beauty of line is critical: calligraphy and music.  In calligraphy one needs to find the optimal mix of complexity and simplicity.  In music one has to have a clearly audible line at all times; this line is not usually visible except on the composer’s manuscript or in the performer’s “performance edition”, and refers to the continuity of sound from the beginning to the end of the piece, with appropriate expression at all points.  The listener knows whether the line has been achieved.  Learning to “keep the line” is one of the beginner musician’s hardest tasks.  Sixty years may be spent on capturing the line in a Beethoven sonata. A better line—meaning more comprehensible phraseology—distinguishes Yevgeni Kissin and Yuja Wang from well-trained but lesser lights.

Peter_G_Moll - 2023 03 11

Reading mouse

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