The divine proportion, also called the golden ratio or the golden number, is evident in all forms of nature. The belief of divine proportion maintains that those with a symmetrical look and those with the right shape are perceived as more beautiful to the human eye. Even if those things look slightly unattractive at first glance, they’re still noted as possessing strong beauty or aesthetics.
The divine proportion is based on the idea of 1.618, which is seen as the perfect distance (it's known as the golden ratio). It is also referred to as the "mean of Phidias", shortened to the Greek letter "Phi", because of a Greek sculptor named Phidias who used the measurement in his own life. This same unit of measurement frequently appears within nature; some people find it in the natural beauty of a seashell, in the breeding patterns of animals, and in the growing patterns of plants that return after 1.618 years. Although it’s interesting that 1.618 is such a prominently-used number, the equation or calculation for Phi is highly complex.
Phi often appears in works of art and musical pieces, but historians aren’t sure if the artists and singers intentionally or coincidentally used the number. There are some who believe that humans use Phi subconsciously because it’s more pleasing to the eyes and ears. The most famous example of divine proportion in art is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci. Upon close study of the figure's face, Phi constantly appears in the dimensions. Salvador Dali was another artist that utilized the golden ratio; his work The Sacrament of the Last Supper purposefully used Phi as a dimension. Mondrian also focused on using the golden ratio in an intentional way, especially in regard to his paintings of geometric shapes.
The golden ratio also appears in architecture. The proportions of the Parthenon equal out to the 1.618 ratio from all sides, and some art and architecture historians believe this was done on purpose because the golden ratio was so highly revered at that time. The Great Mosque of Kairouan and Le Corbusier also used the golden ratio. The formula even appears in ancient Latin texts, where it’s referred to as the golden section or golden number. There are also ancient sculptures embodying this same proportion, though it is unknown whether or not this was intentional.
The divine proportion is aesthetically pleasing to the eye; in fact, studies have even found that humans are more attracted to others who have a facial structure that meets the same proportions. Magazines sometimes publish articles that teach women how to measure their own faces and see how their dimensions compare to the original golden ratio.
The benefit of using the divine proportion is that it catches the viewer's eye. Would Dali or DaVinci’s work be as popular today had they not used the ratio? There’s even a belief that homes and buildings sell better if they utilize the golden ratio. Everything from business promotional items to modern-day churches use this idea because it creates a visually pleasing appearance.
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