Proportion

Baule male standing figure: Baule male standing figure
(unusual proportions)Baule male standing figure: Baule male standing figure
(unusual proportions)
Proportion concerns the relationship of quantities such as weights, volumes or lengths. In the context of art, it is used particularly of the ratios of parts of bodies to each other, for example the size of the head in relation to the whole figure. But proportion is also present in pattern making, in the design of furniture, and of course in natural forms such as plants and animals. Ratios are measurable data, and in manufactured objects indicate the visual preferences of the maker, often learned during training or apprenticeship, and regarded as appropriate for communicating ideals of beauty, or indeed ugliness (see Aesthetics). In representing human figures for example, preferred proportions usually vary according to age and sex.

The expressions 'out of proportion' or 'disproportionate' in common usage are generally unhelpful.

They indicate that the speaker's or writer's sense of appropriate form is not the same as the maker's, which may itself be the result of a well-established tradition.
Yombe standing female figure: Yombe standing female figureYombe standing female figure: Yombe standing female figure

T. Heslop | Nov 2001