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Are There Rules in Art? - How many focal points?
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Are There Rules in Art?
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Aerial Perspective:
How many focal points?
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How many focal points?

While the eye covers a wide angle, sharp vision and attention are limited to a narrow field; I cannot read a column of newspaper without moving my eyes sidewise. Therefore, when we look at a painting, the eye cruises over its surface, and our brain integrates the information into a complete picture. The idea of the contents in an enclosure is the same as that of the Chinese ideogram (fig. 33), in which the message is esthetically arranged and surrounded by a rectangular enclosure. Our cruise within the picture would be interrupted if our eye were guided outwards beyond its edges. We should arrange the picture elements so as to return our eye to the center.

It is often assumed that every picture has one center point towards which our eye is attracted. This is often the case (figs. 6,7) If it were too forcefully so, the travel of our eye, and our interest, could end right there.

Fig. 33

(Chinese Ideograms)

Fig. 34 (Kokoschka)

I find it difficult, however, to decide where this center is located, in figs.30, 32 and 34. There are often two or more focal points between which my eye moves forth and back (fig. 34). Such an ambiguity is not unexpected in art, which thrives on the ambiguous. The presence of two persons, or other features of attraction, of almost equal weight, is quite common and usually more interesting than a picture with one focal point.

Fig. 35

Where is the focal point?