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Variety- a Principle of Design


A principle of design that refers to a way of combining elements of art in involved ways to acheive intricate and complex relationships. Variety is often obtained through the use of diversity and change by artists who wish to increase the visual interest of their work. An artwork which makes use of many different hues, values, lines, textures, and shapes would reflect the artist's desire for variety.

Delahunt, Michael R. "Variety." ArtLex Art Dictionary. 27 March 2011. <>.

Variety is closely related to unity in art. Unity creates a cohesive piece but without some variety, it would be monotonous. Variety adds interest; creates emphasis or contrast. Variety can be acheived with elements of art or subject matter. The key is to strike a balance between unity and variety.


In the 'Andy Warhol - like' images above, unity is created through the repetition of the image. On the left, however, it is somewhat monotonous. On the right, the variety of colors make the image more interesting. Andy Warhol was making a statement about mass production by repeating imagery but used many colors in his work, which provided variety.

See Andy Warhol's work:

the warhol:

Here is a fun interactive site about Andy Warhol's Marilyn prints:

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Prints

Variety can be a subtle addition to an artwork also.

Frederic Remington; Dismounted: The Fourth Trooper Moving the Led Horses; 1890; oil on canvas;124 x 87 cm; Sterling andFrancine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA.

Remington's painting above portrays a head on view of a row of racing horses but the variety in size keeps the composition interesting.

anonymous court artist; album leaf of Album of the Yongzheng Emperor in Costumes; Yongzheng period (1723-35); ink and color on silk; 64 x 80 cm; The Palace Museum, Beijing.

The Chinese painting above shows many different textures that add variety to the artwork.

The artworks above are in the public domain.

Web sites about Variety:

Arguing Art - Principles of Art: Variety
Visual Literacy: Design Principles - Variety
The Elements and Principles of Visual Design: Variety