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The Art World is Elliptical

An artist interprets objects for the viewer but something always gets lost, added, or changed in translation. Art seldom takes the direct route from object to subject. Distortion increases as the path deviates. Call it “artistic expression.”

Three-way relationships are algebraic, so I’ve based a schematic of visual perception on the ellipse with the object and subject being at either focus. To give the artist equal weight in the equation, an equilateral triangle dictates the height. Note that the term “object” also means “referent,” but becomes “concept” in the case of abstract art.

This elliptical boundary separates the aesthetic from prosthetic: art from eye candy. The aspects of art can be quantified by general consensus and questionnaires the likes of “How does this piece of art make you feel? Warm and fuzzy? Dyspeptic? Would you hang this in your home? What room (or closet)?” This helps define boundaries and resolves disputes about the artistic values of, say, line-art versus clip-art, or color-fields vs. food stains.

To locate a style of art relative to the traditional visual traits of the known art world, use the following elliptical formula:

(x-h)² / a² + (y-k)² / b²


“a“ (major axis) charts ambiguity ranging from pure essence to physical form . . .

NOTE: All coefficients and the further concept is explained in the book The Intellectual Handyman On Art
by Gary R. Peterson (iUniverse 2011)

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