I curated a selection of paintings that break the typical composition rules, yet work. The idea is to demonstrate that composition is not a black and white area. The rules and theories exist for a reason in that they work most of the time. But they should be treated more so as guidelines or suggestions rather than rule-bound law.
For each painting I share below, I’ll list the unusual composition aspects. And just to be clear, all these paintings work; this is not a post on what not to do.
Let’s start with Abram Arkhipov’s Smiling Girl. The subject’s head comes to the top edge of the painting. You typically would push the subject down and have some negative space at the top. But it works in this case as it plays into the painting’s intimate feel.