the golden ratio/golden rectangle informed the art, architecture of ancient greece & was, allegedly, discovered by our favorite math wizard, pythagoras. although some claim that the golden mean (phi) confirms a basic aesthetic proportion, others feel that there are too many of these ratios to accurately state that one is more ‘golden’ than the next.
although one can find the golden ratio/mean/rectangle/triangle/pentagram/isoceles triangle in much art of pre-history and again in renaissance art, it’s not until the 20th century that it (for itself) becomes a prominent dialectic in artistic circles.
we may also speculate on the neurophysiological basis behind the sense that the golden mean is a pleasant proportion. of course, it’s a pleasant proportion & we know that these certain proportions create feelings (little synapses of pleasure coursing through your nervous system & sparking in your brain pan, all *POW* *WOW* *ZAP* *KERPOW*!)
A golden rectangle can be constructed with only straightedge and combass by this technique:
- Construct a simple square
- Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner
- Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the height of the rectangle
- Complete the golden rectangle
for me, though, the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics should be a given. they say the golden mean does not occur in nature, which seems likely considering the chaotic nonchalance of the natural world (all that striving for dominance, evolution et al.) but artists (& here i mean ALL artists; musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, CREATORS of art,) the great ones at least, utilize the golden mean, ratio, rectangle, triangle in much of what they do (it might be argued that the abstract expressionists did not and that photographers impose the golden mean upon their compositions.)
the next time you’re at a museum, or an art gallery, take a moment to consider the composition & the artist’s way with the structure of his subject matter, let it be the way, the path to discovering its pleasures, its theme, its beauty.