Gestalt Theory and Frank Frazetta


Before beginning our task for the lesson, Peter mentioned Gestalt and how it’s the theory of visual perception. While not essential to the lesson, he suggested it would be a good idea to research the principles a little more closely and understand them. Overall, the Gestalt principles describe how we visually perceive objects.

Gestalt is a psychology term which means “unified whole”. It refers to theories of visual perception developed by German psychologists in the 1920s. These theories attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes when certain principles are applied.

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Kurt Koffka once said something that defines the Gestalt theory perfectly, and Peter mentioned it in his slides: “The whole is other than the sum of its parts.” In my mind, this means that the lacking of something creates a new something in its place.

There are several principles included in the Gestalt theory, but the ones we went over were:

  1. Proximity – this is when objects that are placed close enough to one another they then are perceived as a group rather than as individuals.
  2. Similarity – when objects look similar enough to one another that people then perceive them as a group or unified shape.
  3. Common Fate – when objects share a direction or have joined movement, they start to share a common destiny and are perceived as one group.
  4. Good Continuance – this is when the objects follow a shared path, which could be any direction as long as they’re aligned, they are then grouped together by the viewer.
  5. Closure – if objects are part of an incomplete figure or there are spaces that are not completely enclosed, the viewer will automatically complete the shape and group it all together.
  6. Symmetry – when objects are symmetrical, even if they are not unified, they are seen as a part of the same group.

One other principle I read about that I really liked was “Figure-Ground”. There are two aspects to this, where the figure is the object that is the focus and the ground if the background behind the figure. By using contrasting colours or two images to create one overall picture, you can achieve a really amazing optical illusion.

Here you can see Peter’s profile in the contours of the Wolf’s body.

Frank Frazetta

Finally, we ended on a “Check It Out” note about Frazetta’s work. He was an American fantasy and science fiction artist, who’s work spans from designing comic books, posters, record albums, and so much more. Throughout his career, he was awarded a number of accolades and even earned his spot in two Hall of Fames. Overall, just by looking at his art, you don’t have to wonder why.

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I absolutely love most of his stuff – some of it feels a little too “out there” for me when he has half-naked people in his work, I suppose, but all of it has an aesthetic appeal in its own way. You can also see why Peter mentioned him with the Gestalt theory, where his pictures are highly contrasted and show some of the principles nicely.


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