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Rex Art Rex Art

Dick Blick

Saatchi Online

shape indexpage

an element of art


1. the outward form of an object defined by outline

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

Shapes are defined by an outline, real or implied. Shapes are two-dimensional, with height and width; however, they can create the illusion of depth.

Shapes defined by objects are positive shapes; those defined by the space around objects are negative shapes.

Shape Poster

Click on poster above for a larger, printable version

An example of an artwork that uses geometric and organic shapes.


Franz Marc, Small Composition II, 1914, oil on canvas, Sprengel Museum

An example of an artwork that uses both actual and implied shapes in its composition (hold mouse over image to see some implied shapes)

Shapes in The Last Supper

Leonardo daVinci, The Last Supper, 1498, tempra on gesso, pitch and mastic, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

The above images are in the Public Domain

Sites about Shapes:
The Virtual Instructor: Shape
National Gallery of Art: Shape
Arts Connected: Shape
Visual Arts: Organic and Geometric Shapes

Some artists who used shape prominently in their work:
Henri Matisse
Piet Mondrian
Wasily Kandinsky
Joan Miro
The Metropolitan Museum: Cubism

Some contemporary artists who use shape prominently in their work:
Franz Ackermann
Bart Exposito
Jaime Gili
Mark Grotjahn
Mark Bradford
Martina Steckholzer
Andy Collins
Peter Peri