There are certain parameters that are used to define art, whether one is addressing a painting or whether one is addressing one of the performing arts, such as dance. Among the elements of art are line, space, and color, which are the elements that will be used to do a brief comparison of dance, as assigned, to Gustave Courbet’s Studio of a Painter: A Real Allegory Summarizing My Seven Years as An Artist, done in 1854-1855, oil on canvas.
Line is a very powerful element of art. It gives direction and separates space. In dance, the dancer uses their body to create lines and uses the silhouette of the body to either be the main focus or to draw the focus to the negative space surrounding the body. In Courbet’s painting he also uses line to separate space. He has lines on the wall that draw the attention to the center of the picture, the lines curving around the model’s naked frame, and then the artist’s hand actually reaching out creates a straight line that separates the painting he is doing in two.
In The Power of Art, by Richard and Susan Lewis, they describe space as “the field of action on which all artists do battle (38).” Not only is this battle for dancers but for painters as well. In a dance you must decide how you are going to use your space and consider how the space is being viewed. Do you want a large amount of space empty or do you want to fill it? In dance you have to work around the space with the lines of your body. In the painting Courbet uses his space very dramatically—there is implied line across the middle of the painting that divides the space of the wall and then below the wall the space is filled with people. He gives his space dimension, as a dancer does when they move forward and backward through space. Space can be made three dimensional and still be two dimensional.
Color is a large part of painting and dance. In dance what you wear could be a big factor of how the dance is perceived—bright colors or dark colors, the lighting that you move through space in, the face. In Gustave’s painting he uses analogous browns and whites to create contrast. Darkness on a chin leads you to see the painter with a beard. Color can make a dance seem like it is to be seen in a major or minor key.
Aesthetically the two are very similar. Of course, it is hard to compare one piece of art to a whole category in itself, but art tends to interweave and relate together in a continuous flow of line, shape, and color.