The art of repetition
Without a doubt, rhythm in art can be considered one of the fundamental principles of art and its production. Interested in exploring more and understanding in depth yet another of its elements, the repetition in art is quite possibly one of the most interesting methods that the artists implement to create a certain movement, stillness, design, confusion, to rebel against the notion of tradition, re-define the idea of the original and the copies, or to cast true focus on one part of the artwork that either makes the work more visible or purposely invisible.
Seen as one of the most important techniques for reduction, repetition is used in an equal amount both in music and visual arts and is seen as both aesthetic and poetic device.
There is a variety of ways in which the repetition in art can occur. It can be even or uneven, regular or irregular, it can form radiation, occurring when the repeat of elements is spread out from the central point, or a form of graduation, where the parts slowly become smaller or larger. Working with repeated patterns, and this was highly regarded during the Art Nouveau period and its pattern-making production, the surface of the work is enhanced, therefore made more interesting to the public, and at the same time, a sense of order is added to the composition.
As a tool, repetition in art helps to build not only the visual part of the work but it often provides a deeper meaning to the artwork, hiding a more philosophical and conceptual identity. Over the last two millenniums, many artists of both the past and the present have focused on constant depictions of the same subjects and motifs in their work as this repetition is encoded in the very DNA of art creating – practice makes perfect.
As ancient painters and sculptors created the same pieces over and over again until they’ve mastered their skill, this practice was carried over to the times of Renaissance and Baroque. However, early avant-garde artists were the first ones that started repeating exactly the same motifs without emphasizing the goal of getting more proficient at painting, but instead striving for other intentions.
Since then, repetition started to be a concept through which getting better was not the result an artist was going for. This radical conceptual change proved to be an excellent fit with the anti-traditional art forms of the 20th century, with many individuals relying on constant presentations of the same subjects and motifs to reach the desired goal.