Gestalt laws, Analogical thinking and Picasso’s idea.
May 15, 2011, 1:48 am
Filed under: CCA1103

We all returned from the mid semester break and headed for the lecturer theatre were Dr. Stuart Medley presented a lecture on visual style in graphic design. He put forward an argument for the importance of creativity relative to style within the creative industry. He spoke and showed examples of  ways  to interpret design using a creative process of reducing photography through graphics to give strong representations of clients requests. By doing this he was illustrating the psychology involved. How the brain does more than the eye in registering certain patterns of association and other perceptual consistencies. We look for patterns in our surroundings using Gestalt laws of grouping including laws of proximity, similarity and common fate. Certain assumptions I had that we as people are unique in how we view the world visually was proven incorrect by these discovered laws.

More interesting was proving that capturing the senses of sound and touch and even smell  in visual format is possible. Through shapes, caricature and illustrative stories such as cartoon strips a certain sense of imagined sound,  touch, etc.  can be achieved. This was again illustrated by associating certain sounding words with certain shapes. A long study of this was carried out globally by two scientists Ramachandran and Hubbard with a sharp-edged enclosed line drawing called Kiki and an organic and soft enclosed line drawing called Oba. They asked participants which word best suited which image. When tested in the lecture theatre by Medley the class unanimously agreed which word best associated with wich line drawing. It was the sound of the names not the name itself that created a sense of which drawing seemed to fit the image. This type of  association was first linked to the condition or disorder that people were afflicted with  known as Synaesthesia. So Dr. Medley was showing us how by using psychology and creative thinking in design, style, graphics and art we can visually communicate successfully.

Communicating ideas in visual format and using ideas, words or concepts and applying them in a new context has been achieved successfully by many people in their creative process. The idea was discussed in the tutorial of analogical thinking and its importance. Through the reading supplied we looked at multiple examples of analogical thinking and the different methods used. From Synetics to direct, personal, fantasy and symbolic analogy to combination of  methods in different examples of great artists, innovators and creative thinkers of the past.

From this enlightening discussion I realised that I have often used analogical thinking in the past to formulate ideas for creative purposes. A long history of this has occurred within the knowledge that as many people state  ” is any creative idea really original?” With this in mind let us look at one of the most famous contemporary paintings produced in the 20th century, Pablo Picasso‘s ‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon‘.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Oil on Canvas (244 ...

Image via Wikipedia

                      Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. Pablo Picasso.1907
On closer examination and research of where this painting originated from creatively Picasso looked to the past as many did before him. The three figures to the left have an echo of the three graces, am image used throughout the late Rennaissance.Picasso’s spanish artistic heritage also played an influence, with the twisting of the two standing figures to the right being similar to El Greco’s mannerist style. Even the blue space between them resembles drapery from  El Greco’s Dumbarton Oaks Visitation. The stony faces of the women on the left which gives them an indifferent and interrogating stare was derived from Iberian stone heads Picasso first saw in the Louvre museum. Whilst the mask style faces to the right was influenced by the African artifacts and masks owned by Picasso as a means of transferring emblems of savagery and violence into the sphere of culture.
Picasso visually illustrated that taking the ideas of others,combining them in a new context can produce work of such revolutionary form and content that it can still shock today. Analogical thinking at its best.
Davis, G. A. (2004). Creative inspiration through analogical thinking. Creativity is forever (pp.145-170). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendall/Hunt.
Hughes, R. (1991). The Shock of the New. Art and the century of change. London : Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Medley, S. (2011). Creative Approaches to Design. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 6th 2011.
Picasso, P. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.(1907). Image retrieved on Friday May 6th, 2011. From Wikepedia website:

1 Comment so far
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Very good post Franco, strong points and I love the references to Picasso’s work. Did a paper on him a couple semesters ago, he really is fascinating to research and learn more about.
Great set of posts.

Comment by Mitch

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