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CLOSING REMARKS

 

One of the problems that I came to have with Jay Hambidge's system of dynamic symmetry and in my discovery of the history and use of this system, is that there seemed to be nothing going on at the present emphasizing dynamic symmetry specifically in the art field. Architects are aware of this dynamic proportional system and Hambidge's dynamic symmetry theory is still used and discussed today, both in Europe end in the United States (See Cited Time-line) although much written about it is in specialized periodicals. Some of the greatest examples of this system can be found in the works of the great twentieth century French architect, Le Corbusier, a contemporary of Hambidge.

True, Jay Hambidge did have some critics. There are those art historians who believe it is impossible and even sacreligious to quantify works of art. His main critic was still writing against Hambidge's dynamic symmetry theory 47 years after Hambidge's death.

I am currently corresponding with the four museums that sponsored Hambidge in his early work with dynamic symmetry and Greek vases. The Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University states that they are not currently involved with dynamic symmetry research but they told me the St. John's Review at St. John's College, Baltimore, Maryland, recently published an article on dynamic symmetry in 1985.

The Stoddard Collection curator at Yale University states that no-one at Yale is currently working on the system of dynamic symmetry, but that two articles have recently been published on dynamic symmetry: one in German (1966) and one in French (1972) and that in 1986, in New York, the curator "saw Hambidge's Dynamic Symmetry book selling for $200, suggesting that his work is still considered valuable and timely, at least on a commercial level."

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts states that Professor Lacey D. Caskey, who worked extensively with Hambidge, later re-examined his opinion as to the value of Hambidge's theory on the advice of Professor J.D.Beazley of Oxford University.

The curator of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art states that Miss Grisila M. A. Richter, who worked with Hambidge, continued to use Hambidge's dynamic symmetry well into the 1940's. He also recommended contact with the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, in Rabun Gap, Georgia, whose founder was Jay Hambidge's wife, Mary.

The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences put me in contact with three excellent sources: one, the past director of the Hambidge Center, Mary Nikas; two, a Georgia high school art teacher, Tomy Evans, and, three, the Archives of American Art, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, who microfilmed much of the Hambidges' material in 1984 and now have it on file for study and reference. The above referrals were a godsend as they brought dynamic symmetry up-to-date.

The former director of the Hambidge Center for twelve years, Mary Nikas, was especially helpful to me because she had been a friend of Mary Hambidge (who died in 1973) and I was thus able to have first hand biographical information about Jay Hambidge.

Mr. Tomy Evans, an art teacher in Tiger, Georgia, uses Hambidge's dynamic symmetry in his lesson plans currently. He assigns individuals to make designs based on the dynamic symmetry "root" rectangle of the whirling squares (which is also the "Golden Rectangle").

Since 1984 much of Jay Hambidge's writings and correspondence have been placed on microfilm at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and are available for study.

There is obvious validity in this system of dynamically proportioning an area, but in this day-and-age it would seem that it is but one of many. For myself, I find it is a very desirable system for icon-writing because it insures a pleasing composition. Of course, not all icon-writers of the past used it, just as not all Greek vase potters used it, but it would seem that enough of them used it to bring to modern times the fruit of their creations, which still engage us today with their aesthetically pleasing work.

I don't know what I can explain, exactly, about my enthusiasm for this system of proportional composition of an area, except to say that, being human, we viewers are apt to prefer one compostion over another for some unknown reason. This being true, the fact that several famous masterpiece icons that are revered today and have been kept safe for so many centuries, and have been repeatedly copied, seems to speak well for the probable truth of the use of this ancient system of dynamic symmetry being used at the time they were composed and painted.