What is the Definition of Balance in Art?

Jan Van Eyck's
This panel from Jan Van Eyck's "Ghent Altarpiece" shows great symmetry. Electa/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images


(noun) - As a basic principle of art (specifically of design), the definition of balance refers to the ways in which the elements (lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc.) of a piece are arranged. Balance is one of those useful terms to know, if one is to employ Art Speak.

Balance can be symmetrical ("formal"), where elements are given equal "weight" from an imaginary line in the middle of a piece.

For the most basic example of symmetry, think of your eyes in relation to either side of your nose.

Balance doesn't necessarily mean symmetry, though. Asymmetrical ("informal") balance occurs when elements are placed unevenly in a piece, but work together to produce harmony overall.


Pronunciation: bal·ence