Closed vs. Open
This analysis deals with issues of
framing. Is everything included in the image, or did the frame cut something
off? Are we content that the information provided in this narrative is
all-inclusive, or do we need more information that may have been spatially
left out? If we were to continue the image another three feet to the right or
left, at top or bottom, would there be more of interest? Closed means that we
are satisfied with the amount of information presented. Open means that we
perceive that there may be more beyond the frame; the information or
narrative is incomplete.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper
is an example of a closed composition. The thirteen men are present.
The table is completely in view. The walls are shown at left and right
evidencing no more people in the room. Nothing appears to be cut off or
cropped. That is all there is. The composition is complete.
Night Watch, again, is an example of open. As the viewers’ eyes pick
out the various men through the patches of high value upon their faces, they observe
that many are cut off or overlapping in odd ways that provide us with only
partial information as to their faces and bodies. If our gaze moves along the
edge of the painting, we again observe that almost everyone is cut off in one
way or another. If the composition were extended another three feet to the
right and left, would there be more? Definitely, perhaps even another dozen
figures on both sides. We do have a sense that this painting is a narrowed
view of a larger mass, and therefore more is implied. It is incomplete and