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Contrast is the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark colours, rough vs. smooth textures, large vs. small shapes, etc.) in an artwork so as to create visual interest, excitement and drama. 


The colours white and black provide the greatest degree of contrast.


Complementary colours also highly contrast with one another.


Contrast creates interest in a piece and often draws the eye to certain areas.


Chiaroscuro – In drawing, painting, and the graphic arts, chiaroscuro (ke-ära-skooro) is the rendering of forms through a balanced contrast between light and dark areas. The technique, that was introduced during the Renaissance, is effective in creating an illusion of depth and space around the principal figures in a composition. Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt were painters who excelled in the use of this technique




Alexander Calder, Lithograph from Derriere Le Miroir, 1963

Alexander Calder, internationally famous by his mid-30s, was renowned for developing a new idiom in modern art - the mobile.


His works in this mode, from miniature to monumental, are called mobiles (suspended moving sculptures), standing mobiles (anchored moving sculptures) and stabiles (stationary constructions).  Calder's abstract works are characteristically direct, spare, buoyant, colourful and finely crafted. He made ingenious, frequently witty, use of natural and manmade materials, including wire, sheetmetal, wood and bronze.


Calder was prolific and worked throughout his career in many art forms. He produced drawings, oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, gouache and serigraphy. He also designed jewellery, tapestry, theatre settings and architectural interiors.   Calder died in 1976.


This 'stabile' has strong contrasts using only black, white, red and yellow. The simplicity of design and colour make this a striking work, which suggests movement and animation. 

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