art design gestalt theory

Powerful Essays
Leonardo

Art, Design and Gestalt Theory
Author(s): Roy R. Behrens
Source: Leonardo, Vol. 31, No. 4 (1998), pp. 299-303
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1576669 .
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HISTORICAL

Art,

PERSPECTIVE

Design

and

Gestalt

Theory

RoyR Behrens

ABSTRACT

iiG estalt psychology began in Germany in
1910. While traveling by train on vacation, a 30-year-old
Czech-born psychologist named Max Wertheimer was seized by an idea when he saw flashing lights at a railroad crossing that resembled lights encircling a theater marquee. He got off the train in Frankfurt am Main, where he bought a motion picture toy called a "zoetrope" (Fig. 1). When a strip of pictures is placed inside and viewed through the slits in a zoetrope, a succession of stationary pictures appear to be a single, moving picture. In his hotel room, Wertheimer made his own picture strips, consisting not of identifiable objects, but of simple abstract lines, ranging from vertical to horizontal. By varying these elements, he was able to investigate the conditions that contribute to the illusion of motion pictures, an effect that is technically known as "apparent movement" [1].
Years earlier, Wertheimer had



References: and Hillsdale, NJ: American Psychological Association and Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991); Morton Hunt, The Story of Psychology(New York: Doubleday, 1993); Robert C. Bolles, The Story of Psychology: A Thematic History (Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1993); and Mitchell G. Ash, Gestalt Psychologyin GermanCulture, 1890-1967: Holism and the Questfor Objectivity(Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ K6hler," AmericanPsychologist33, No. 10, 939-944 (1978). 6. Rudolf Arnheim, "Das Bauhaus in Dessau," Die Weltbiihne(1927); translated by Arnheim as "The Bauhaus in Dessau,"Print 51, No. 6, 60-61 (1997). Teuber, "BlueNight by Paul Klee," in Mary Henle, ed., Visionand Artifact (New York: Springer, 1976) J. Abbott Miller, eds., The ABC 's of AO The Bauhaus and Design Theory(New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991); and Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten(New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997). 16. See Gy6rgy Kepes, Language of Vision(Chicago, IL: Paul Theobald, 1944; New York: Dover, 1996); Laszl6 Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion (Chicago, IL: Paul Theobald, 1947); and Rudolf Arnheim, Art 17. Ellen Lupton andJ. Abbott Miller, Design Writing Research:Writingon GraphicDesign (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996) p No. 5 (1945). 18. Quoted in Wylie Sypher, Rococoto Cubismin Art and Literature(New York:Vintage Books, 1960) pp. 19. Quoted in Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, eds., Artists on Art (New York: Pantheon, 1945) p. see Roy R. Behrens, "Illustrationas Design," in Illustration as an Art (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986) chapter 1. 20. See Ernest Fenollosa, The Mastersof the Ukiyo-e (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1896); Arthur Dow, Composition(Boston, MA:J.M. Bowles, 1899); Denman Ross, A Theoryof PureDesign (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1907); and Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea (Boston, MA: Fox, Duffield and Company, 1906). A discussion of the influence of these books, the aesthetic movement and Reinhold, 1993).

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