Ahoy, ahoy!

Today we spent quite a bit of time focussed on Alex Colville, which is understandable, because not only is he a Canadian artist, he is also a Sackville artist!  We spoke about how his work was very centred around measurement and mathematical proportions, and the Golden Ratio was mentioned.  The Golden Ratio is a rather interesting crossover between mathematics and art.  The desire for the replication of human perfection has been around for centuries, and the Golden Ratio has inspired people in all sorts of disciplines for over 2’000 years.

The ancient Greeks developed the figure of the Doryphoros or spear-bearer in approximately 45 – 50 BCE  in their quest for a perfectly proportioned human body.  Additionally, it is thought that the Parthenon was created using golden rectangles as a basis for it’s architectural design.

Doryphoros, marble copy of bronze original

It was during the Renaissance that artists began to really pick up the use of the Golden Ratio in their works.  The quest for perfect proportion in human figures was made example of in Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, which laid out a set of specific measurements by which representation of a person should follow.  Human symmetry was seen as an extension of the symmetry of the universe, as it existed as and because of nature.

Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man

The Golden Ratio is a highly transferable to all sorts of different disciplines.  Le Corbusier made use of it in his new, international style architecture.  He referred to this style as the Modular, and began using the concept in his buildings around the 1930’s.  Twenty years later, measurement of his own house would inspire Colville to begin working with the Golden Ratio in his paintings.   Symmetry and straight lines can be seen in Colville’s works, along with works executed by other artists of this timeframe.  The label of “magic realism” to works of this time could be seen as referrring to the fact that in nature, symmetry does exist, but not to the degree of perfection expected and aimed for by artists and architects alike over the years.  Perhaps it is following these ratios that results in such a super-real quality in these pieces.

That’s all!