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Patterns make up a huge part of the visual lexicon of everyday perception, and of art. Shop our curators' selection of pattern artwork from the LUMAS portfolio, and find a piece of art for the walls of your home or office

A History of patterned art

In art, a pattern is a visual motif which is repeated, or in which irregular shapes seem to be composed in an intentional framework. Pattern art is art which takes patterns as motifs in themselves, or in which the pattern makes up a large part of the visual labor.

Patterns are an ancient practice in arts and crafts, present on the cultural artefacts of many ancient cultures. Islamic art is perhaps the greatest and longest tradition of patterned art, incorporating geometric, typographical, and floral motifs into characteriscially sinuous compositions, especially present on architecture.

In an artwork, patterns can be entrancing, establishing a rhythm that "guides" the viewer and defines the entire composition. This was the goal of the famous stairs art of MC Escher, for example, which resulted from a meeting of abstract art and mathematical speculation about the possibility of an endless staircase.

Both irregular and regular patterns, by artists ranging from Gustav Klimt to Andy Warhol, play major roles in establishing a tempo on both the aesthetic and conceptual levels.

Pattern art and geometric designs

While some artists portray irregular and unique patterns, others seek out symmetry. This is characteristic above all in the 20th century history of interior and graphic design.

In modern art, the Bauhaus was the inspiration for many and various trends and movements which made strong use of regular, geometrical patterns featuring simple shapes. Geometric art was a style characteristic of mid century art and design, which took inspiration from the Bauhaus, and from the designer and textile artist Anni Albers.

Whereas in the textile and wallpaper design of art nouveau elaborate and distinct patterns patterns appear, in minimalist design they often appear as part of a larger unseen tapestry.

parallel mid-century tradition is Op art, which describes a style of abstract art meant to create the illusion of movement. The optical art style builds on studies of human perception, and its spirit is found in lenticular art and motion photography.

Today, patterns are the subject of a wide range of interest, from theorists of natural chaos and complexity searching for patterns in nature, to the psychology of human computer interaction. In aerial photography, the mile high view lends itself especially well to lines and repetition, visible from high altitudes. Beach photography from high perches like cliffs, or from aircraft, relies on pattern, not just expanding the scale of human subjects, but also imposing a repetition or order on them.

Contemporary Pattern Artists

The LUMAS portfolio contains a wide range of drawings, paintings, and photography, featuring all types of artistic patterns, from snowflakes to calligraphy.

Sarah Morris is one of the world's most famous pattern artists, making use of straight lines and carefully balanced colors. Abstract black and white prints by Andrew Bordwin are a tribute to the Art Deco architecture of New York City.

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