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Rakewell

New Year in Manchester: Golden Cut or Half Cut?

6 January 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.

We’re not a week into 2016, but already we have a contender for viral image of the year. When an image of some drunks fighting on a Manchester street at New Year went viral, the ‘hilarious’ art historical memes were not long in coming.

BBC producer Roland Hughes compared it to ‘a beautiful painting’, while others were rather more specific; Hogarth, Seurat and pretty much any Italian Renaissance artist have all become shallow points of reference for the image. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before some design blogger or other decided to superimpose a diagram of the fabled Golden Ratio over the snap to highlight its supposedly classical proportions.

The mystery of the Golden Ratio has puzzled scientists, artists and philosophers for centuries. But the questions it posed to thinkers of eras past was as nothing to those of its current ubiquity on social media. Indeed, a bizarre but comprehensive range of images have been subjected to the Golden Section treatment over the past few years. From the Apple logo to a fight that broke out in the Ukrainian Duma in 2012 to… uh, Donald Trump’s scalp, it’s all been slotted into the famous spiral segment. Verily, beauty surrounds us at every turn.

Or does it? Forgive Rakewell his momentary scepticism, but when anyone can plonk the template of the famous theorem over literally anything to ‘prove’ a(n in no way fatuous) point, one does start to wonder

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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