Sunday, January 10, 2010

Defining Beauty: Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt

Californian Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt is a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has spent the last several decades in pursuit of creating an objective standard for judging the beauty of the human face. Marquardt, through his foundation, Marquardt Beauty Analysis, has theorized that the highly visual human race has imprinted in its genetic code an archetypical image of what its fellow human beings should look like. The closer someone comes to matching that subconscious ideal of "humanness," the more positive emotional response will consciously be engendered in the viewer, and attraction will follow. It is his belief that this human archetype can be mapped mathematically, and after years of research, Marquardt put forward his controversial Facial Mask.

The shape of B-DNA fits perfectly inside the Golden Decagon Matrix

Using the Golden Ratio (1:1.618) as his basis, Marquardt constructed a two-dimensional figure called the Golden Decagon Matrix, a design which perfectly correlates with the shape of B-DNA , the most common form of DNA found in nature. Within the shape of a Primary Golden Decagon Matrix, forty-two secondary golden decagon matrices (each smaller than the Primary by a multiple of Phi [1.618]) were overlaid and uniquely positioned to form the various components of the human face. When the extraneous lines are removed, the resulting image is the Phi Mask or Facial Mask, composed of line segments and shapes which relate to each other through the Golden or Divine Proportion (1:1.618). The placement of the secondary matrices and the decisions as to which segments were removed were influenced by data collected by studying photographs of people "universally" considered beautiful (ie. supermodels).

The resulting mask structure is not only purported to represent the ideal facial features of adult women AND men, but it is also said to do so independently of race. MBA then uses this idealized map to outline dental and aesthetic surgical options for persons needing reconstructive procedures. Eventually, Dr. Marquardt would like to further refine the research providing separate facial guides for infants, children, and mature adults, as well as further developing an understanding of variations by ethnicity. He also plans to begin mapping the body as a whole to increase the knowledge of human physical beauty in its entirety.

Marlene Dietrich

Greta Garbo

Marilyn Monroe

Heather Locklear, smiling

On the MBA site, Marquardt offers several examples of the mask overlaid on the faces of celebrities and models, past and present, to show how the mask directly correlates to these "known" beauties. I plotted a few faces of my own, and was surprised by some of the results.

Angelina Jolie fits the mask pretty well, except for her lips being larger than average, which should come as no surprise. (Her head is tilted downward in this photo, which would account for some of the ill-fit around the jawline).

Jolie's counterpart in beauty, Brad Pitt, however, doesn't fit the Mask well at all. At its best fit (top), the Mask would indicate that Pitt's nose is too wide, and his jawline too pronounced for mathematical beauty.

Soccer superstar turned occasional model, David Beckham, however, fits the Mask almost perfectly, the only variation seeming to occur in the brow area, though the flattened eyebrow area is not uncommon in European caucasians. It would be of no surprise to Marquardt that Beckham fits the Mask so well, as the doctor feels that athletes are predisposed to physical symmetry. It is this symmetry which makes them good athletes, and results in so many athletes being attractive.

Actress Megan Fox also fits the Mask exceptionally well.

Dianna Agron of the TV show Glee, fits Marquardt's Frontal Smiling Mask nearly perfectly.

Perennial beauty, Grace Kelly also fits the Lateral Mask quite well.

Barbara Hale

The biggest surprise for me was how well the Mask fit actress Barbara Hale, whose face I had decided to plot just because she had been one of Gil Elvgren's models. Elvgren defintiely had a good eye for beauty.

Marquardt also superimposes his Mask on several pieces of famous art on the MBA site.

A painting of The Madonna by Raphael

Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent. Lady Agnew was considered a beauty, and Sargent's painting does her comeliness justice.

I also mapped a few images by artists whom I have previously profiled for their personal senses of beauty.

In this classic pin-up, the Mask fits Elvgren's portrayal of smiling model Janet Rae perfectly, except in the eyebrows, which the artist intentionally exaggerated.

Andrew Loomis' excellent painting of a man has features which match the size and relative shape of Marquardt's Mask, but the placement of those features is quite different from the Mask's layout.

Waterhouse's ideal of beauty doesn't match the Phi Mask at all.

Despite Marquardt's claims of the Mask's universality, detractors point out that it best fits northern European caucasian women with masculine features. This is very much due to the data collected from supermodels. (One supporter of Marquardt claims that supermodels are chosen for their masculine attributes by homosexual clothing designers who prefer the looks of males. To me, this theory seems a bit far-fetched and near-sighted at the same time. It is more likely that the women are chosen for their body types, and how those body types showcase the clothing: that the woman have features commonly associated with men has more to do with physical traits common to their body shape. Models are often chosen in their teens because their general body shape is correct, but their facial features do not yet have the angularity of an adult).

The Mask can be used much like the construction faces put forth by artists such as Andrew Loomis. On the MBA site, frontal and lateral masks are downloadable, in both smiling and repose expressions, and these can be compared to your own artwork. The easiest way to superimpose the Mask on your artwork is through photo-imaging software, such as Photoshop. In Photoshop, open your artwork, and create a new multiply layer (under the 'Mode' tab, choose 'Multiply' when creating the layer). Paste a copy of the Mask in that layer, and transform its size using the Scale feature. Tips on re-sizing the Mask can be found on the MBA site under the category Mask Applications: You and the Mask.


Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating article, but a little chilling. Thanks for posting it Matthew.
From an artist's point of view this could become another tool that you can use to produce a "standard" face, and then tweak it to add character and identity.
From a social point of view, does this mean that people with "nonstandard" faces will slowly become lesser beings?
I feel that Marquardt's proposition has the same spirit as a dentist's insistance that a patient should have perfect teeth - after all, why wouldn't you want to have a nice smile? It only costs a little money to ensure your acceptability to everyone, how can that be so wrong? (Perhaps my British roots are showing.)
Hooray for wrinkles, spots, birthmarks and assymetry! God bless Brad Pitt for his "ugliness"!


Great post Matthew,

It does seem to ignore many of the models that are kind of goofy looking facially but have the correct height and build for the runway. Which makes your point that they aren't chosen for their faces.

Li-An said...

No map for intelligence and humour ?

k said...

I am sceptical because of variations:
male mask

Next he should discover the beauty of web design. His home page needs that mask variation badly.

Anonymous said...

I believe there are two variations of the mask, one for males and one for females. You only used the female variation, which is is why the mask didn't fit some of the "beautiful" men very well. I bet if you applied the male mask to Brad Pitt you would get a much better fit.

Sam said...

Say, can anyone tell me where to find this image by Loomis of the man in profile? It's great! (and would make a great forum avatar).

innisart said...

Sam- The Loomis image was from a sale at Heritage Auctions

Anon.- You are correct- there is a male mask available which might provide a better fit with Pitt. I've yet to plot it to find out.

Melanie said...

You should do some examples of people who really don't fit the mask.

alexis estenzo said...

This is really amazing..! Most celebrities are beautiful indeed.. Facial test and analysis has not only provide the measurement of beauty but it also help identifying people who did wrong in the society. Great blog.

john smith said...

Great blog.Surgical Face Mask

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Beatrix Tuffy said...
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aliena josph said...

One of our old Invictus shirts had a tag line that read, “Re-Defining Beauty.” Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue so well? Re-defining beauty. This topic of beauty really strikes a chord with me. What does it mean, and who determines what is beautifulMike Walden Review