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The Elements of Dynamic Symmetry (Dover Art Instruction) Paperback – June 1, 1967
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From the Back Cover
Is design intuitive or is it consciously and methodically worked out? Are there basic rules governing design that, when learned, will facilitate the creative process? These questions have been asked by artists, art historians, and art critics throughout the ages.
Convinced that design was not purely instinctive, Jay Hambidge (1867–1924) spent much of his life searching for the technical bases of design. He found his answer in dynamic symmetry, one of the most provocative and stimulating theories in art history. Hambidge's study of Greek art convinced him that the secret of the beauty of Greek design was in the conscious use of dynamic symmetry—the law of natural design based upon the symmetry of growth in man and in plants. But Hambidge, who was not only a theoretician but also a practicing artist, did much more than analyze classical art and its principles of design: he worked out a series of root rectangles that the artist, using the simple mathematics supplied in this book, can easily follow and apply in his own work.
Originally published as a series of lessons in Hambidge's magazine, The Diagonal, this engrossing book explains all the basic principles of dynamic symmetry. Part I sets forth the fundamental rectangles with their simple divisions based on the proportioning law found in nature; Part II explains compound rectangles, many of which were taken from or suggested by analysis of objects of Greek art.
Whether read for its historical importance in art theory, for its illuminating insights into Greek art, or for its practical value to today's artists and commercial designers, The Elements of Dynamic Symmetry has much to offer anyone who is interested in the principle of design.
Dover republication of the third (1948) edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you're unfamiliar with Phi and the Golden Ratio by no means should you start with this book. The writing is very dense and confusing, with little more than dry diagrams to illustrate points. And it doesn't help that the author constantly refers to the Golden Rectangle by the more arcane term "Rectangle of the Whirling Squares."
It does go into more detail than other books I've read on the subject. Even if a fair bit of it was flying over my head I did learn some geometric relationships and ways to construct forms that I hadn't seen before.
The actual artistic (or even scientific) application of all this is effectively nonexistent in this book. In the end you'll know many ways to construct and arrange these elements, but have no idea what to do with them.
I'd personally recommend Geometry of Design, Revised and Updated (Design Briefs) as a good starter book on learning this stuff and using this book to extend your knowledge later on.
A LOT of this little book is about spirals, proportions and bisecting rectangles. Today, "dynamic" systems in math refer to differential equations and time series that DO mimic nature-- as in population curves, birth/death sims, etc. (technically, point variance with time). This is NOT the use in this book-- symmetry is actually pretty static in the sense used here. Of course there also are over 600 primary articles on Wiki starting with the word "dynamic" so much has changed since 1919! Back then, "dynamic" in art/math meant a type of mental "animation" where, for example, repeated symmetrical bisections could produce a "golden ratio" spiral, etc.
Nevertheless, I'm always pleased when Dover or any other publisher takes the risk of publishing ANY math that connects to visuals. And in fact, this one is easily comprehensible by an average High School audience. For example, it doesn't look at symmetry in today's terms at all (Group Theory), and actually doesn't even seem to realize that symmetry is the ability to rotate without changing the visual! For more advanced, but still inexpensive math on symmetry, try Chapter 7 in Stewart: Concepts of Modern Mathematics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
incredible knowledge! I'm taking away so much great info from this book. It will change how I plan art from now on.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book for a reference in the study of symmetry for the artist or anyone just reviewing art work. There are many examples, more than I had expectedPublished on May 4, 2014 by Martoni48
To others this book is easy to understand, for me it was a challenge. I have read several chapters at least once to understand it. Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by Deb
This copy was purchased for a friend. I have had my copy for at least 30 years, and have used it for a serious
reference for the duration. Read more
Most interesting and refreshing to basically review basic math as it relates to art and its art forms, very suser friendlyPublished on August 23, 2013 by Robert Breton
This book is entirely theoretical on the issue of dynamic symmetry. And be warned, its manner is that of a geometry or mathematics treatise, not a discussion of the aesthetic... Read morePublished on August 6, 2011 by OhYeah