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The Power of the Center

A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts, 20th Anniversary Edition

Rudolf Arnheim


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What determines the overall organization of visual form in the works of painting, sculpture, and architecture? Artists have sometimes ventured practical rules of thumb, and mathematicians have looked for formulas that would prescribe ideal spatial relations between shapes. This companion to Rudolf Arnheim's classic, Art and Visual Perception, shows how compositional form makes sense only when it utilizes visual symbols of the life experience that makes art meaningful.

Praise For The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts, 20th Anniversary Edition

"Arnheim was a distinguished psychologist, philosopher and critic whose work explored the cognitive basis of art—how we interpret it and, by extension, the world." 

— Cabinet

"It is the balance between the precision of [Arnheim's] specific analyses and their participation in a larger order of principles that makes Power of the Center such a satisfying book." 

— ARTnews

University of California Press, 9780520261266, 250pp.

Publication Date: October 19, 2009

About the Author

Rudolf Arnheim (1904—2007) was Professor Emeritus of the Psychology of Art at Harvard University and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Sarah Lawrence College. He was author of many books, including Art and Visual Perception, Film as Art, and Visual Thinking