Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bernar Venet: Artful Figures?

Parabole de la fonction y=2x^2+3x-2 (left)
Gold Saturation with four N (right)
(Image from JoongAng Daily)

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that "I like to read articles on things that I know nothing of to see if they spark ideas on things that I know something about," and I've now come across the French artist Bernar Venet, who has a similar method for seeking inspiration:
"I confess, I don't understand math well . . . . I get fascinated by what I cannot understand. As I cannot understand math, I can express it as abstract paintings."
Being an artist, Venet would undoubtedly know something about painting, and I can see how mathematics as inspiration would lead to abstraction in painting.

Though Venet is renowned, I learned of this French artist only yesterday in an article by Moon So-young, who often writes fascinating articles on art for the JoongAng Daily. Yesterday's was titled "Making art of numbers and figures" (March 14, 2011) and alerts readers to the Venet exhibition running until April 14 at the Seoul Museum of Art near Deoksu Palace in central Seoul. Moon usually offers something to reflect upon in her art reviews, and she doesn't fail to do so here in this exhibition announcement, either:
American art critic and poet Donald Kuspit wrote in his book Bernar Venet Art and Mathematics: In Search of the Sublime that Venet's mathematical murals "are more sublime than mathematical, or rather use mathematics as a springboard to the sublime."
To put this statement into context, Moon adds:
The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant said the feeling of the sublime, unlike the feeling of the beautiful, is accompanied by awe, fear or some kind of displeasure from an object due to its overwhelming and unfamiliar qualities.
This suggests that those individuals with math anxiety who visit the exhibition should be able to enjoy an experience of the sublime in Venet's mathematical paintings. But I wonder what mathematicians might make of such paintings.

Anyway, for those intrigued by the idea of math as inspiration, visit the exhibition, read the short JoongAng article, or -- even better yet -- click over to Bernar Venet's own website and explore on your own.

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At 5:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intriguing, indeed.
"Unlike but like" MC Escher.

[and, the word verification reads "parsec"]


At 5:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

How coincidental.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:12 AM, Blogger WoundedEgo said...

"I like to read articles on things that I know nothing of to see if they spark ideas on things that I know something about,"

Ha! I do that!

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

There seem to be a number of us who do so . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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