Formal Elements Part 1


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Architectural Project for the Church of the Madeleine, Etienne-Louis Boullee, 1777-1785.

Analysis: Within the Architectural Project for the Church of the Madeleine, there is a use of lines that is integral to any architectural section, elevation or rendering. That is the use of line weights. In architectural project drawings, this practice makes the world of difference when communicating a proposed design. It creates that depth of field so that others can note where things like objects, walls, or columns are in space. For instance, in this rendering you can note the heavy line weights on the columns that repeat rhythmically. However, as you follow them towards the middle of the building itself, you notice that the line weights for the columns become lighter. This signifies that these particular columns are farther away from the viewer in space then the ones with the heavier line weights.


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Pyramid of Teopanzolco, Cuernavaca, Edward Weston, 1924.

Analysis: The overall shape of an object can tend to point to the addition or subtraction of form when placed within a specific context. In this photograph of the Pyramid of Teopanzolco, you can note the different shapes of the stairs that seem to be made out of the surrounding stone of the indigenous area. This photograph displays how these materials were utilized to create new shapes and forms that better fit human needs.


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Dejanira (Autumn), Custave Moreau, ca. 1826-1898.

Analysis: Dejanira (Autumn) is an example of a painting with limited color usage. It has a very warm palette, one with bright reds, oranges and yellows that appear to be helping to reinforce the feeling of autumn. This painting also has a good sense of value, given that the brighter yellows and reds help juxtapose the darker background parts of the forest, and draw the viewers eyes to to main subject matter of the painting. Both color and value irradiate warm energy, and help bring one’s eye to the human figures in the foreground.


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The Triumph of Venus, Alessandro Magnasco, ca. 1720-1730.

Analysis: Value is used in the Triumph of Venus in a way that shows the depth of the scenery. It helps show the sun direction in the image, in the way that it interacts with the classical architectural orders and statues. Value also plays a key role in delineating and brightening the primary focused characters versus what seem to be other background/tertiary characters.

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LaCigale, Edward Steichen, Negative 1901; Print 1908.

Analysis: The role value plays in LaCigale is the creation of an ominous presence. There are no real bright colors being represented here, and that attributes to the uneasy feeling in the image. As opposed to other examples of value that I discussed prior to this, LaCigale’s value slowly fades from light to dark. It helps create the unknown around the human form, making her seem lost in the darkness that surrounds her. It also has some use of space, being that there is a greater dark area to the right of the image. This space, coupled with the slow fade to black in value can make the viewer feel as though something may be lurking in the shadow.


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Ducat, Unkown, 16th Century.

Analysis: This Ducat piece exemplifies form. That being that it is a 3 dimensional figure that takes up space. However, with this piece specifically one can really note the craftsman ship that went into a coin such as this from the 16th century. The worn and battered edges and face can not only hint to how it was created, but also how it may have been used in the society of the time. It also has some bas-relief sculptural elements on the face of the coin, making it a good example of texture as well as form.


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Polonaise Carpet, Unknown, ca. 1620.

Analysis: The Polonaise Carpet is an example of texture when it comes to the elements of art. If you look closely at the outer edge of the carper, you can notice an edge that isnt precicely straight. This edge in juxtaposition to the white background can help the viewer see what the carpet may feel like. There are also very light horizontal lines that help showcase the craftsmanship and show the woven nature of the face of the carpet.


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The Flagellation, Bernardino Lanino, ca. 1550.

Analysis: The Flagellation is a piece that helps to showcase space in a way that makes the viewer almost feel what the characters are feeling. There are three figures within a very enclosed space. Each are making very wide motions that help fill the cramped space, and showcase the misery of the individual in the middle. It creates a sense of discomfort and claustrophobia within the viewer to help empathize with the individual tied up in the middle.

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