I've always been very cynical about artists using compositional devices in their paintings such as 'The Golden Section'.The golden section is supposedly the secret of beautiful proportion and harmony in Art. I have been cynical because I believe composition should be felt, not intellectualised. However whilst recently looking at some Matisse and Klimt paintings I realised that some of the fundamental proportions in their paintings bore striking resemblances to the general proportions of the Golden Ratio. I really didn't want to believe this!
However, what I did was superimpose the Golden Ratio in Photoshop over a number of their works.The results really surprised me. Certain lines, curves and echoes of lines and curves were seen to correspond to the Golden Ratio exactly. I felt these results were more than a coincidence. Looking closer at the superimposed lines to see what was going on I realised that often what was happening was the Golden Ratio was helping not compositionally but rhythmically in the paintings.The curves spiral round eternally due to the mathematics of the Golden Ratio. I think this is why the paintings flow so well, often the direction and shape of a form and curve in Matisse look like they are altered to coincide with this spiral that the Golden Ratio creates. I of course may be totally barking up the wrong tree and reading something into these works that is not there, but it does make sense as to why these paintings have such a natural rhythm about them.