Art Fundamentals: How Composition Works

How balance, symmetry and rhythm bring an artwork to life

Three-part structure and triangular compositions of ‘Assumption of the Virgin’ (1516–18) by Titian. Oil on canvas. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice. Image source Wikimedia Commons (modified by the author)

Most artworks occupy dimensions in space. In the case of a painting, for example, the image has a certain height and width, and within those dimensions, a composition.

Composition is the way in which elements within an artwork are combined. It can contribute to a work’s…