Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Outline of a Theory of Visual Tension

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Art & Perception

Artists and art historians frequently use the word ‘tension’ when describing a work of art. However, no full-fledged explanation has yet been given on what tension, a term borrowed from physics, exactly means in visual and artistic contexts. This paper seeks to fill this explanatory gap and to outline a theory according to which visual tension, in a way totally analogous to elastic tension, emerges as the result of the distortion of basic shapes underlying visual perception. This theory, which draws from Edwin Rausch and Michael Leyton, will be applied to the analysis of biomorphic art, Edvard Munch’s painting Eye in Eye and Giotto’s fresco Joachim’s Dream.

Affiliations: 1: Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin), Institute of Aesthetics and Art Theories, Hardenbergstr. 33, D-10623 Berlin, Germany


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Arnheim, R. (1982). Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye , The New Version. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2. Arnold M. (1986). Edvard Munch , Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg, Germany.
3. Attneave, F. (1954). "Some informational aspects of visual perception". Psychol. Rev. Vol 61, 183193.
4. Barr, A. (1936). Cubism and Abstract Art. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.
5. Blum, H. (1973). "Biological shape and visual science (part I)". J. Theor. Biol. Vol 38, 205287.
6. Brady, J. M. , (1983). "Criteria for representations of shape", in: Human and Machine Vision , Rosenfeld A. ,, Hope B. , and Beck J. (Eds), pp. 3984, Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.
7. Cordulack, S. W. (2002). Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism , Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp., Cranbury, NJ, USA.
8. De Winter, J. , and Wagemans, J. (2006). "Segmentation of object outlines into parts: A large-scale integrative study". Cognition Vol 99, 275325.
9. De Winter, J. , and Wagemans, J. (2008). "Perceptual saliency of points along the contour of everyday objects: A large-scale study". Percept. Psychophys. Vol 70, 5064.
10. Fry, R. (1919). "Line as a means of expression in modern art (continued)". Burlingt. Mag. Vol 34, 6269.
11. Garau, A. (1993). Color Harmonies , University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.
12. Garner, W. G. (1962). Uncertainty and Structure as Psychological Concepts , Wiley, New York, NY, USA.
13. Hendrickx M. , and Wagemans J. (1992). "A critique of Leyton’s theory of perception and cognition". J. Math. Psychol. Vol 43, 314345.
14. Hetzer, T. (1981). Giotto: Grundlegung der Neuzeitlichen Kunst . Mäander Urachhaus, Stuttgart, Germany.
15. Hoffman, D. D. , and Richards, W.A. (1984). "Parts of recognition", Cognition Vol 18, 6596.
16. Kandinsky, W. (1947). Point, Line to Plane . The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY, USA.
17. Koffka, K. (1935). Principles of Psychology . Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, UK.
18. Kogo, N. , and Wagemans J. (2013). "The “side” matters: How configurality is reflected in completion". Cogn. Neurosci. Vol 4, 3161.
19. Lakoff, G. , and Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors We Live by . The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.
20. Leyton, M. (1986). "A theory of information structure I". General principles. J. M. Psychol. Vol 30, 103160.
21. Leyton, M. (1992). Symmetry, Causality, Mind , The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
22. Leyton, M. (2006). The Structure of Paintings , Springer-Verlag, Wien, Austria.
23. Liddell, H. G. , and Scott R. (1897). A Greek-English Dictionary , 8th ed., Harper & Brothers, New York., NY, USA.
24. Luccio R. , (1999). "On Prägnanz ", in: Shapes of Forms: From Gestalt Psychology and Phenomenology to Ontology and Mathematics , Albertazzi L. (Ed.), pp. 123148, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands.
25. Pfeifer W. (1989). Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen , Band 3 Q-Z, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.
26. Rausch, E. (1950). "Zur Phänomenologie figural-optischer Dynamik". Psychol. Forsch. Vol 23, 185222.
27. Rausch, E. , (1966). "Das Eigenschaftsproblem in der Gestalttheorie der Wahrnehmung", in: Handbuch der Psychologie, 1/1, Metzger W. , and Erke H. (Eds), pp. 866953, Hogrefe, Göttingen, Germany.
28. Sylvester, D. (2002). About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948–96 . Pimlico, Random House, London, UK.
29. Van der Helm, P. A. , (in press). "Simplicity in perceptual organization", in: Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organization , Wagemans J. (Ed), Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
30. Wagemans, J. ,, Van den Bossche P. ,, Segers, N. and D’Ydewalle, G. (1994). "An affine group model and the perception of orthographically projected planar random polygons". J. Math. Psychol. Vol 38, 5972.
31. Wagemans, J. ,, Elder, J. H. ,, Kubovy, M. ,, Palmer, S. E. ,, Peterson, M. A. ,, Singh, M. , and von der Heydt, R. (2012). "A century of Gestalt psychology in visual perception: I". Perceptual grouping and figure–ground organization. Psychol. Bull. Vol 138, 11721217.
32. Wertheimer, M. (1922). "Untersuchungen zur Lehre von der Gestalt, I: Prinzipielle Bemerkungen". Psychol. Forsch. Vol 1, 4758.

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Art & Perception — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation