What is The Shape?
The real world, both the natural one and the one created by the human being, is populated by simple and complex shapes, with their own characteristics that identify and differentiate one from another, such as, for example, animals, plants, buildings, and cars; each of these entities has its own shapes. But what is the shape itself? This has been defined as the outline and structure of every subject and object. The contour establishes the limits of the figure, and the structure consists of its skeleton. These two ingredients mark its external appearance and framework; that is, the relationship and organization of the parts with the whole. Through our senses, sight, and touch, in particular, we perceive all the shapes that surround us.
Types of shapes
In both, the natural and artificial world, we find geometric and organic shapes. The first ones, are characterized by being organized from a mathematical, ordered, calculated layout, and the last ones, by being irregular, free, spontaneous; for example, a beehive or a building, for the first case; the clouds or an abstract organic sculpture, in the second case. There are two-dimensional ones, height, and width, like the leaf of a tree or a sheet of paper; and three-dimensional, height, width, and depth, like an orange or a soccer ball.
The shapes in their appearance contain a series of particularities that allow us to distinguish them from each other. The configuration is related to its structure, flat or volumetric; its proportion is determined by its context, it depends on where and how the shapes are placed and related to each other; matter indicates its physical composition, size, weight, color, texture, and illumination.
The shape in Visual arts
The shape is one of the elements of visual expression that artists use to compose a artwork, be it two-dimensional or three-dimensional, flat or volumetric, figurative or abstract. In order to achieve the illusion of a three-dimensional shape, the artist works on a two-dimensional support -paper, canvas or sheet of wood- with lights, shadows and tonalities, imprinting volume and depth on a flat space, so that we can fully identify it; but in the same way, the artist can make the shapes limiting himself to the two-dimensional support, representing the figures in a flat way, in silhouettes and contours with the aggregates that configure the surface of a shapes such as lines, colors and visual textures.
In relation to three-dimensional shapes such as sculpture and architecture, these are characterized by being volumes that occupy a real space, which do not develop in the plane, which allows them to be observed from various points of view, to be surrounded, palpated, and penetrated. They are provided with an internal structure and a certain external appearance caused by their size, material, color, and lighting.
Manifestations of the shapes
There are expressive procedures used by artists in the composition of shapes to produce different visual sensations; for example, geometric and closed shapes, with defined, finished contours, cause a visual sensation of immobility, order and serenity; the organic and open shapes break their contours allowing a dialogue between their internal and external components, thus provoking a sensation of movement, fluidity and freedom. This behavior of shapes occurs both in two-dimensional artworks, painting, and drawing, and in three-dimensional works: sculpture and architecture.
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