Empirical study on the golden ratio in Chinese landscape paintings

Empirical study on the golden ratio in Chinese landscape paintings

Author: Guoyan Wang – University of Science and Technology of China, China

Jiafei Shen – University of Science and Technology of China

The golden ratio plays an important role in harmonious aesthetics. However, because of ambiguity in empirical evidence, it is often critiqued and thus quite controversial. Some researchers have attempted to analyze the golden ratio using a large variety of persuasive analytical methods of sample statistics but have only obtained evidence against the golden section in art. Examples of the golden ratio in both the natural and man-made world can always be found while no persuasive empirical evidence has been presented thus far.

The object of this study is one of the oldest visual arts: Chinese landscape paintings, which convey the eastern beauty of “psychological harmony”. Using computer image recognizing and processing technology to quantitatively analyze their typical characteristics, we analyze 710 paintings from the Palace Museum and the National Art Museum of China. In particular, we apply blank-leaving to comprehensively analyze the pixels of the paintings. The data shows that the quantified blank-leaving in classical landscape paintings is in accordance with the golden ratio of mathematics. The paintings range in date over thousands of years and this emphasizes a stable painting composition style, thus providing statistical, empirical evidence for the universality of the golden ratio in Chinese landscape paintings.

In addition, the data reveals that, in the past century, the blank-leaving of modern landscape paintings has gradually deviated from the golden ratio and the painting composition style has shown a trend of diversification. This reflects that classical visual arts have been greatly impacted by the modern pluralistic trend of thought.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Comparing science communication across cultures