Elements and Principles of Design - Rhythm


a patterned repetition of a motif, formal element, etc., at regular or irregular intervals in the same or a modified form.

Related Concepts


Rhythm is the repetition of visual movement - colors, shapes or lines.

Variety is essential to keep rhythms exciting and active, and to avoid monotony.

Movement and rhythm work together to create the visual equivalent of a musical beat.

Rhythm in Fine Art

 Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase (No2)
Marcel Duchamp - "Nude Descending a Staircase (No2)", 1912

Duchamp painted this painting to show the rhythmic movement of a figure coming down the stairs. The effect is like stop-action or strobe-light photography, because the repeated shapes and angles of the abstracted figure move diagonally across the canvas. Try to feel the rhythm the next time you walk down some stairs.

Source: Elements and Principles of Design: Student Guide with Activities, published by Crystal Productions