Dense Composition

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Similar to “horror vacui,” a Latin-derived term for “fear of empty spaces,” compositions in this category cover the entire surface of a work with highly-detailed visual content. The art of filling empty spaces dates back to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greco-Roman friezes, and South Asian miniature paintings, where picture planes would overflow with interlaced bodies. Centuries later, Northern Renaissance artists like Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Dürer would execute complex compositions with little negative space between their meticulously-rendered figures. Symbolically and physically dense designs can be found in contemporary art as well, from the totemic assemblages of Vanessa German to the wheatpaste wall installations of Swoon.

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