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Gary Peterson Art Blog

The Art World is Elliptical

by p3t3rson , May 2, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: art analysis, art categories, art history humor

The Art World is Elliptical for full diagram.

An artist interprets objects for the viewer but something always gets lost, added, or changed in translation. Art seldom takes the direct route from object to subject. Distortion increases as the path deviates. Call it ___artistic expression.___

Three-way relationships are algebraic, so I__™ve based a schematic of visual perception on the ellipse with the object and subject being at either focus. To give the artist equal weight in the equation, an equilateral triangle dictates the height. Note that the term ___object___ also means ___referent,___ but becomes ___concept___ in the case of abstract art.

This elliptical boundary separates the aesthetic from prosthetic: fine art from eye candy. The aspects of art can be quantified by general consensus and questionnaires the likes of ___How does this piece of art make you feel? Warm and fuzzy? Dyspeptic? Would you hang this in your home? ___What room (or closet)?___ This helps define boundaries and resolves disputes about the artistic values of, say, line-art versus clip-art, or color-fields vs. food stains.

To locate a style of art relative to the traditional visual traits of the known art world, use the following elliptical formula:

(x-h)_² / a_² + (y-k)_² / b_²


___a___ (major axis) charts ambiguity ranging from pure essence to physical form: a continuum from ___abstract___ art such as de Kooning's - located safely inside of the swamp gas barrier...

---End of excerpt. Read the entire essay in The Intellectual Handyman On Art, a book by Gary R Peterson (iUniverse)




  Paul Gleave ( homepage )

01/02/2011 * 21:04:11

I love it - I had a look at the diagram and found it began to make sense after a while. It is sometimes difficult to explain an artist's interpretation they use to represent their subject/muse into a diagram that places that interpretation into perspective against the many other interpretations out their - but to me this diagram has succeeded. I also love the the references to more everyday visual representations (swamp gas/ food stains) and how they relate to more artistic expressions. I agree that art can come in many forms to viewers, and one person's art (the Velvet Elvis) is really something that does fall outside the ellipse.


  ArtId Staff ( homepage )

05/09/2008 * 10:07:54

I have to admit Gary,
This concept is grasp-able but the formulas are a little complicated for my poor little brain. But I admire your thought process and I certainly cannot argue your conclusions. I'm looking forward to the belief/desire theory.


  Gary Peterson ( homepage )

05/07/2008 * 09:05:34

Thanks Zander,
I have a new theory about art as a balance between belief and desire. More later. I've commented in your guestbook. -GP


  Zander Lassen ( homepage )

05/07/2008 * 07:02:19

Hi Gary- It does my soul good to know that people out in the world are still taking art so seriously! Thanks for the blog- Zander


  Gary Peterson ( homepage )

05/05/2008 * 08:11:59

Thanks Michael - I think...

I pin my logic more on Wittgenstein than R. Mutt (DuChamp). The concept stemmed from a discussion of "What is art?" but then took a left turn. The point is that natural language fails to define art: It always gravitates to "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it." The following formula was my original attempt to reconcile, empirically, that conundrum: an alternative to Kantian heurmeneutics that suppose to proffer aesthetic judgments, if you will.

p(IE/ie) = 0 to 1


p = precept (this coefficient adjusts one's perception according to some historic or current concept of reality).

IE = the Intelligence and Emotional components of the viewer (the sum determines whether the art piece makes you feel good, or just smart).

ie = intent and execution of the artist (does he or she have a vision and the horsepower to convey it?)

0 to 1 = the result falls in this range: anything from swamp gas (0) to fine art (1).

Admittedly, my ellipse theory flew off on a tagent. That it conflated my perception theory with history does seem a bit Hegelian, but after crossing a certain threshold of time and effort, I was compelled to give it a fling and see how it flew: sort of an intellectual Frisbee.

It doesn't surprise me that your keen eye spotted it streaking across the horizon on its way to destiny like Henry Cavanagh streaking across the Nonsequitur Landscape in a yellow taxi cookie jar on a cold November morning. Your diverse artistic vision is just that good and I'm honored that you took notice. -GP

ADDENDUM: ...I guess if I was so damned smart I would have seen that I was comingling someone else's crafty oeuvre (cookie jar) with your canon of fine-art paintings and prints (Nonsequitur Landscape). Oh the humility. Thanks again. -GP


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

05/03/2008 * 17:03:08

Seeing as how I have an irrational fear of alegebra, I approached your blog with a certain amount of trepidation. And I must admit, I now feel an equal amount of amusment and confusion. Your article was similtaneously entertaining and completing confounding. Trying to confine art in the limited boundries of a mathematical equation is both ridiculous and unnatural. And yet, in some Duchampian style logic, you seem to have succeeded. It's absolutely absurd and strangely logical. Either way, I love the way your mind works.

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