A Theory of Pure Design: Harmony, Balance, Rhythm (1907)


A Theory of Pure Design – Harmony, Balance, Rhythm; 1907; Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

A book detailing the science behind harmony, balance, and rhythm in art. The author, Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935), was an American painter, art collector, and professor of art at Harvard University. From the preface:

The terms and principles of Art have, as a rule, been understood by the artist in the form of technical processes and visual images, not in words. It is in words that they will become generally understood. It is in words that I propose to explain them in this book. I want to bring to definition what, until now, has not been clearly defined or exactly measured. In a sense this book is a contribution to Science rather than to Art. It is a contribution to Science made by a painter, who has used his Art in order to understand his Art, not to produce Works of Art. In a passage of Plato (Philebus, ^f 55) Socrates says: “If arithmetic, mensuration, and weighing be taken out of any art, that which remains will not be much.”

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: University of Toronto Libraries
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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