The art world has felt the influence of the Golden Ratio for centuries. Also known as the Golden Section or the Divine Proportion, this mathematical principle is an expression of the ratio of two sums whereby their ratio is equal to the larger of the two quantities.
During the Renaissance, painter and draftsman Leonardo Da Vinci used the proportions set forth by the Golden Ratio to construct his masterpieces. Sandro Botticelli, Michaelangelo, Georges Seurat, and others appear to have employed this technique in their artwork.
Gary Meisner on the Golden Number blog has mapped the geometric underpinnings of select paintings via software, which can be seen below:
In the 19th century, artists Georges Seurat and Edward Burne-Jones organized their compositions with the help of geometry.
Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting Bathers at Asinères (1884) can be broken down into three rectangles delimiting the fore-, middle-, and backgrounds, for example. And the arc of Burne-Jones’s staircase is the focal point of The Golden Stairs (1876-1880), around which the other elements are arranged.
Moving into three dimensions, geometry figured heavily in the twentieth century. Sculptors Constantin Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore work abstractly, yet with simple, spare lines and forms.
Brazilian Neo-Concretism relies heavily on the simplicity of geometry: both Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica’s work is a mass of angles and blocks of color.
Last but not least, artist Salvador Dali resurrects da Vinci’s “divine proportions” in his Surrealist homage The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955), bringing us back to where we began.