Priciples of Organization

Priciples of Organization

And Their Impact in Art

In art, the visual elements alone often do not suffice for a good artwork. It is crucial how these elements relate to each other and are structured through principles of organization.

Only when these elements are consciously arranged and placed in relation to each other does a multifaceted interplay emerge, shaping the context of an artwork. The choice and application of organizational principles enable artists to communicate their intentions and ideas more clearly and achieve a deeper impact on the viewer.

In this article, we will examine the organizational principles more closely through examples to better understand them and potentially consciously apply them in our own artworks.


Example of Organizational Principles: Alignment

Francisco de Zurbarán, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Alignment is an organizational principle that demonstrates a clear arrangement of elements in an artwork. The elements can be arranged either in a straight line or form a slightly curved row. It is important that they are isolated from each other and do not touch.

With alignment, a harmonious overall picture and a certain tranquility in the artwork are achieved. The repetition of elements in a specific arrangement creates a uniform rhythm.

In Francisco de Zurbarán’s still life, a clear order of the four objects can be discerned, arranged in a straight line next to each other.

The deliberate application of alignment enables artists to communicate their intentions and ideas more clearly. Through clear arrangement and isolated placement of elements, certain aspects can be highlighted or emphasized. Alignment can also be used to create a certain tension or dynamism by varying the distances between elements.


Example of Organizational Principles: Dispersion

José Pinazo Martínez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dispersion is an organizational principle that consciously exhibits a chaotic and disordered arrangement of elements in an artwork. In contrast to alignment, where a clear arrangement and repetition of elements prevail, no recognizable order is evident in dispersion.

Dispersion creates a certain disorder and irregularity, giving the artwork a dynamic and lively quality. Although initially seeming chaotic, it can still have a strong visual impact and convey certain emotions or sensations.

An example of the use of dispersion in artwork is José Pinazo Martínez’s still life. In the work, shells and books appear to be scattered wildly on a surface without any recognizable arrangement.

The deliberate application of dispersion allows artists to achieve certain effects. For example, they can express a sense of disorder or instability or create a certain energy and movement in the artwork. The seemingly arbitrary arrangement can also evoke various interpretations and associations in the viewer.


Example of Organizational Principles: Grouping

Juan van der Hamen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Grouping is an organizational principle in which elements are consciously arranged to form a recognizable unity and are closely related to each other. Unlike alignment or dispersion, the elements are not arranged linearly here but grouped together clearly.

Grouping creates cohesive units in the artwork that convey a common visual statement or meaning. The elements within a group can complement each other, contrast, or create a certain harmony.

An example of the use of grouping in artwork is Juan van der Hamen’s still life. In this work, various fruits, plates, a basket, and glassware are grouped together, creating a clearly structured composition. The elements within each group are related to each other and form a harmonious unity.

The deliberate application of grouping allows artists to establish a deliberate arrangement and relationship between elements. By grouping similar or thematically related elements, visual connections and a sense of wholeness are created in the artwork. Grouping can also be used to highlight certain elements or focus on specific aspects.


Example of Organizational Principles: Agglomeration/Condensation

Georg Flegel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The organizational principle of agglomeration or condensation refers to the deliberate accumulation of objects in an artwork. Here, the elements are placed closely together, creating a high concentration and intensity. In contrast to other organizational principles, the rest of the space remains deliberately empty to focus attention on the concentrated accumulation.

An example of the use of agglomeration/condensation in artwork is Georg Flegel’s still life. In this work, various fruits, nuts, a bowl, a fly, and an exotic pygmy parrot are depicted in a tight accumulation. The objects occupy a large part of the image space, while the rest remains deliberately empty. This creates an intense and concentrated composition.

The deliberate application of agglomeration/condensation allows artists to create a strong visual presence. The closely placed objects create a sense of overcrowding or overlay, making the artwork energetic and expressive. With the help of agglomeration/condensation, artists can highlight certain aspects or themes and create a clear visual hierarchy. The accumulation of objects can also convey symbolic or metaphorical meanings and achieve a deeper emotional impact.

Main Image: José Pinazo Martínez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons