@smceccarelli I completely agree! Composition is what actually makes things work and get the point across. The other fundamentals are tools to make that easier and are necessary when the lack thereof distracts from the point of the artwork. In the same way that Story is King, Composition is King. Primitive illustration and the various design disciplines utilize this very well.
However, not knowing anatomy or perspective or proper color and light can severely impede on one's ability to create innovative compositions. (Especially value and/or color in my opinion) The things artists like N.C. Wyeth, Pascal Campion, Nathan Fowkes, and Dice Tsutsumi can do compositionally because of their knowledge of color, light, and shadow are extraordinary. Having that toolkit available makes their ability to find design solutions easier, fresher, and more genuine. Also knowing what things are worth discarding for the sake of a good image is important.
I took a class my freshman year (that I didn't appreciate fully at the time) called 2-D design. It's essentially a basics of composition class. We tried to isolate and focus on the concepts of Contrast, Shape, Rhythm, Emphasis, Color, Balance, Rhythm, Value and then bring it all together with Unity. These are the true fundamentals of all art. Including music and dance, etc. Designers typically understand this very well. But I was crap at drawing at the time, so it was hard for me to properly conceptualize these things in my work.
I will also argue for the practice of fundamentals like anatomy, perspective, color, and light. A basic device such as putting the highest point of contrast, be it value or saturation, on your focal point can determine so much about your composition. A piece could be completely midtone without nuances if turned greyscale, but in full color all the temperature and saturation shifts could make it breathtaking. Using hard and soft edges is also a great tool in building composition. Which paper stock a collage artist chooses to use, or the textures they want to include, or a painter knowing that a scene taking place in the golden hour will have a certain color palette, certain shadow shapes, and certain mood can enable them to make a dynamic composition. Or a calm composition. Or whatever the point is.
If composition is the building, all the "fundamentals" are the bricks and scaffolding to get there.
I think one of the problems with artists and fundamentals, is that after the initial wave of learning how to actually see as artists, we can get stuck in learning and practicing fundamentals just for the sake of it rather than with intent of application. That being said it's pretty hard to focus on composition and storytelling if you are struggling with putting anything down in the first place, be it primitive or hyperrealistic. Reference is eternally useful, but if you can't draw or visualize well enough in the first place, you'll have a tough time of it. Or at least, I did and do.
Another analogy is teaching a child what letters are, then how to write letters, then how to combine them to make words, then using those words to compose sentences. Then using sentences to make paragraphs and essays and novels, and so on and so forth. You don't have to be a perfect linguist with impeccable spelling and grammar and knowledge of every single word and meaning in order to write something good, but you need a good enough grasp that you aren't still trying to figure out how to form a sentence while trying to get a point across.
Thanks for bringing this up! Love it!