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The art of composition - Michel Jacobs - (1926) PDF ebook

The art of composition - Michel Jacobs - A simple application of dynamic symmetry - Illustrated 

The art of composition - Michel Jacobs

Archaeologists have long since recognized that the Greeks used Dynamic Symmetry, in the planning of their temples, statuary, paintings, vases, and other works of art, but artists have been slow to adopt this system mainly because of the belief that it is necessary to understand higher mathematics.

 Most books on composition that have been written are books of "Don't." I have, therefore, tried to make this book a book of construction rather than tell the things to guard against. I have tried to show how to construct a work of art so as to make the composition a thing of beauty: so that an original conception can be carried out in a harmonious arrangement, as a design or decoration, without which no work of art is worthy of the name. 

Another reason that I have taken up this task is to connect Dynamic Symmetry with other forms of composition long since recognized. Undoubtedly, there are many roads: some intertwine; few diverge to such an extent that they cannot be used for the same object. I trust that I have made this book so simple that even a child may be able to master the contents.

On account of the misunderstanding that Dynamic Symmetry is mathematical and difficult to understand, I have taken great pains to leave out any suggestion of an algebraic or geometrical formula. I have even gone so far, in all but the last chapter, to omit letters or numbers to describe lines or angles, for fear that the reader might believe, at first glance, that it was necessary to understand higher mathematics. 

One often hears of artists who refuse to be guided by any law or rule of science and who consider that they are law in themselves. If they were students of psychology, they would see that they are absorbing from others, I might even say copying, perhaps subconsciously, but they themselves would be the first to deny this accusation. Another peculiar fact, those who do not know the laws of nature and who do not put them into their work often make a great success in their youth through their inherent talent, but in later life fall back in the march of progress on account of their lack of early training and absorbed knowledge.

This book is based on Greek Proportion, which in turn was undoubtedly founded on Nature's own laws. Much of the information was gathered from "Nature's Harmonic Unity," by Samuel Colman, N. A., which was published in 1912, and which was one of the first books published on proportion in nature; from "Dynamic Symmetry: The Greek Vase," 

"The Parthenon," and other works by Jay Hambidge, published from 1920 to 1924; from "Geometry of Greek Vases," by L. D. Caskey, published in 1922; and from the works of D. R. Hay of Edinburgh, Professor Raymond of Princeton University, and Professor A. H. Church of Oxford. Many writers have put their own interpretation on this system of composition. 

This is only natural when you consider the basic principles from which they have to draw. The variety of compositional layouts are innumerable. I have only attempted to show some of the possibilities, and it is for the artist to work out for himself many more layouts based on this system. 

I wish to call to the attention of the reader the fact that this book is only intended as a preliminary study of the great principles of Dynamic Symmetry, and I fervently believe and hope that the readers, after they have perused these pages, will continue their study with the number of books on the subject, and especially the posthumous work by Jay Hambidge called, "The Elements Of Dynamic Symmetry." Besides the use of this system for artists' composition, I also wish to call to the attention of photographers that Dynamic Symmetry can be used to great advantage, firstly, by using the Transparent Guides described in this book, and secondly, by cutting their photographs so as to conform to dynamic lines and areas, or drawing the dynamic lines on their ground glass. Advertising agencies and printers will find that their layouts of type matter can be better arranged by the use of this system.

 It can also be used by interior decorators, jewellers, and ceramic workers, as well as in other kindred arts. My thanks are due to my assistants and pupils, Miss Frederica Thomson, Mrs Eunice Fais, Miss Ruth Radford, and Mr Louis Amandolare, who have helped me with the illustrations and layouts In this book.


  • Chapter one: composition in general I
  • Chapter two: dynamic symmetry 13
  • Chapter three: different roots or forms and proPortion of pictures 21
  • Chapter four: points of interest 33
  • Chapter five: whirling square root 44
  • Chapter six: root one 49
  • Chapter seven: root two 60
  • Chapter eight: root three 71
  • Chapter nine: root four 77
  • Chapter ten: root five 82
  • Chapter eleven: combined roots 85
  • Chapter twelve: more complex compositions 99
  • Chapter thirteen: ground composition in perspective, showing the third dimension 117
  • Chapter fourteen: composition of mass, light and
  • Shade 120
  • Chapter fifteen: composition of colour 126
  • Chapter sixteen: a few mathematics of dynamic
  • Symmetry 129
  • Glossary, 139
about the book:
  • Author: Michel Jacobs 
  • Publication date:1926
  • Company: Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company

  • Download The art of composition -  6.7 MB - with illustrations 

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