ArtLex Art Dictionary




vvolute - A spiral or twisted formation or object; a flat or nearly flat scrolled or whorled spiral, as opposed to a helical one. In architecture, a spiral ornament found especially in capital of the Ionic, Corinthian and composite orders.

Spirals - volutes and helixes -- are among the ten classes of patterns.

A mechanical drawing tool with which one can draw parts of volutes is a French curve.

(pr. ve-loot')

Examples of the use of this form:


Susa (Iran-Iraq border), Acheminide epoch, reign of Darius I (c. 510 BCE), Capital of a Column of the Audience Chamber (Apadana) in the Palace of Darius I, limestone, height 3.20 m, Louvre. See Mesopotamian art.




see thumbnail to rightAttributed to Egypt, Fatimid, Wood panel, 11th century, carved wood, 13 3/4 x 9 inches (34.93 x 22.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Islamic art.




see thumbnail to leftGiacomo Vignola (Italian, 1507-1573) and Giacomo Della Porta (Italian, 1538-1602), Il Gesu, facade, exterior detail of pediment and volute, 1571-1577, Rome, Italy. See Mannerism.



see thumbnail to rightClaude Mellan (French, 1598-1688), The Face of Christ on the Sudary, 1649, engraving, image: 42.6 x 31.8 cm inches This portrait is famously engraved with one continuous line which spirals (volutes?!) outward from the end of the nose.




see thumbnail to leftUnited States of America, Boston, Bookplate of Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Per ampliora ad altiora", 1875, engraving on paper, c. 10.3 x 7.4 cm. This bookplate depicts a chambered nautilus a seashell with a volute design. See bookplate and ephemera.




see thumbnail to rightGeorgia O'Keefe (American, 1887-1986), Pink Shell with Seaweed, c. 1937, 22 x 28 inches, pastel on paper, San Diego Museum of Art, CA. See nature.



see thumbnail to leftMaurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch , 1898-1972), Whirlpools, 1957, color wood engraving and woodcut printed in red, gray, and black; image 43.8 x 23.5 cm, sheet 54.1 x 31.4 cm, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA.







see thumbnail to rightsee thumbnail below Robert Smithson (American, 1938-1973), Spiral Jetty, 1970, black basalt rocks, earth and salt crystals, coil: 1,500 x 15 feet, stretching out counterclockwise into the translucent red water of Great Salt Lake, UT. As yet this has not been done. Spiral Jetty was acquired by Dia Center for the Arts as a gift from the artist's estate in 1999. Robert Smithson's estate maintains a page about this and other works. See earth art and landscape.




see thumbnail to rightRobert Smithson, Spirals, no date, c. 1970, graphite drawing on paper, 9 x 12 inches.




see thumbnail to leftRobert Smithson, Spiral Hill, Emmen, Holland, 1971, earth, black, topsoil, white sand, c. 75 feet at base.




Fibonacci Series and Golden Section in Art and Architecture. See the graphic by Brian Knott, 1996.



see thumbnail to rightA spiral staircase as seen from below. This volute is a photograph of a helical structure taken with a worm's-eye view.


Willemijn Bouman (Dutch, contemporary), Spiral, 1995, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 160 cm, collection of the artist.


chambered nautilus






Also see coil, curve, Fibonacci Sequence, fractal, Golden Mean, movement, and proportion.




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