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Regarding the Euphoria, Duration and Questionableness of Discoveries in Art

The quote below is from "The Power of the Center : A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts" by Rudolf Arnheim

"This book has been entirely rewritten. There are paragraphs here and there and even an occasional page that have remained untouched, but more likely than not they will now be found in different places. A few illustrations have been added, others have been dropped, and a comparison between the table of contents of the earlier edition and that of the present one will show substantial rearrangements.

How can such thorough revamping be justified? How is it even possible? I shall try to explain. The first writing of the book was influenced by the happy realization that I had made a discovery. Composition, a prime requirement of any organized visual statement, has been discussed for centuries by artists, art theorists, and critics. Practical rules for proportion and spatial arrangement have been proposed; intuitive judgments of good and faulty balance have been presented: triangles and circles and all sorts of arrows have been drawn on reproductions of works of art. Some of these devices looked more convincing than others, but most of them applied to particular works of art or to particular styles. Principles of composition that might apply universally to buildings, sculpture, and painting, to the applied arts as well as the fine ones, regardless of their place and time of origin, were not sought out. They were considered unattainable and perhaps undesirable.

My own training and inclination have always led me to what things have in common rather than what distinguishes them. Looking at the offering of the arts of the ages as the collective attempt of mankind to explore the endlessly variable ways of giving shape to one thing, art, I became increasingly convinced that composition, in whatever style or medium, derived from the interaction of two visual principles, which I now call the centric and the eccentric systems. I began to see reasons for the necessary universality of these principles, and as the search for them opened my eyes to the organization and meaning of more and more works in the various forms of art, I felt ready to give an account of what I had found. The mounting evidence telling me that what I was seeing could be seen everywhere and the euphoria accompanying this discovery and confirmation led me to write the first version of the book in the order dictated by inspiration..."