Kindred Spirits is a well-known work by Durand (1849) that uses the theme of nature. The painting depicts a beautiful mountain landscape and two friends (a poet and a painter) spending time together. It is possible to say that Durand uses the principles of composition in an effective manner. Rhythm, balance, and emphasis are implemented by the painter to make the work visually appealing. He also uses these principles to avoid unnecessary details that would make the two men look too small and unimportant. With their help, Durand encourages the audience to perceive dozens of elements in the picture as different parts of the unified whole.
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As for the principle of equilibrium, the painter makes use of asymmetrical balance instead of strictly observing symmetry. It is evident from how Durand adds colors to maintain the right balance. To counterbalance a large green area in the top left part of the canvas, he uses prominent green elements, such as three young trees, in the right lower corner, thus unifying the composition. Rhythm is the principle that may involve the repetition of patterns and lines to create the illusion of movement.
Four tall trees in the left third of the painting are depicted in a very detailed way, with hundreds of leaves. Their bodies grow skyward and then bend towards the precipitous cliffs, as though they were leading the viewer’s eye through the painting and connecting the left and the right halves of the canvas.
The principle of emphasis is used by Durand in a very unusual way. The painter manages to unify the composition by making two opposite types of accents. On the one hand, the viewer’s attention is attracted to large objects along the edges of the canvas. For instance, tall trees in the left part take a lot of space and gain much attention due to being very realistic and detailed. On the other hand, the objects in the foreground create a frame around the relatively empty central part. This emptiness and pastel colors call attention to the central part of the canvas, thus placing the men in the center of attention.
Durand, A. B. (1849). Kindred spirits [Oil on canvas]. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR. Web.