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Outline of a Theory of Visual Tension

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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

10.1163/22134913-00002048
/content/journals/10.1163/22134913-00002048
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2016-12-08
2017-11-18

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