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Symmetrical Balance in Art: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Symmetrical Balance?
  • 0:22 What Does Symmetrical…
  • 0:45 What Makes Symmetrical…
  • 1:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Swoboda
In this lesson we will discuss symmetrical balance and how it is represented in art, architecture, and other imagery. Visual aids are included to help illustrate the this commonly used device.

What Is Symmetrical Balance?

Symmetrical balance refers to balance that is achieved by arranging elements on either side of the center of a composition in an equally weighted manner. Symmetrical balance can be thought of as 50/50 balance or like a mirror image. In other words, the image would look the same on either side of the center.

What Does Symmetrical Balance Look Like in Art?

A symmetrically balanced image is visually equal on either side of the center. Look at this painting (see video). You can easily imagine that if a line was drawn down the middle of it, the left side would be virtually identical to the right. It is a very structured, orderly way of designing a work of art. Because of the orderly nature of symmetrical balance, it is also referred to as formal balance.

What Makes Symmetrical Balance Desirable?

Because of its very structured and equally balanced nature, symmetrical balance is perfect for when the desired effect is a sense of order, clarity, and consistency. It is easy for our eyes to follow shapes and patterns when they are repeated; it is a restful type of visual rhythm that puts the viewer at ease. For example, government buildings and institutions that need to inspire trust often use symmetrical balance. Capitol buildings, courthouses, museums, banks, churches, etc., are often great examples. It is important for such major public structures to convey a sense of orderliness.

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