Figure - ground


The relationship of the picture surface (ground) to the images on the picture surface (figure). The figure is the space occupied by forms (e.g., a person in a portrait) (also known as the 'positive' space); the ground is the "empty" or unoccupied space around the person in the portrait (also known as the 'negative' space) (The ground is also commonly called the 'background.') In art since the early 20th century, this division of the picture plane has been seriously challenged, to the point where there is not a distinction of figure/ground, but rather one continuous surface and space, with no 'positive' or 'negative' space, just one interwoven space.