Monday, May 4, 2015

The Mathematical Models that Inspired Artist Man Ray

This is the final week of the Phillips Collection exhibit Man Ray: Human Equations showing photographs and paintings by American artist Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) (1890-1976). At one point in his career he was inspired by late 19th century plaster, wood, papier-mâché, and string mathematical models from the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris. Man Ray photographed the models as a basis for his Shakespearean Equations paintings. The exhibit shows various mathematical models, the photographs, and paintings together side-by-side. Although these are not at all statistical, the models are great visualization tools for the deep mathematical concepts from over a century ago.

As the exhibit mentions: "Placed in context with his other paintings, photographs, and objects, these works illustrate the artist’s proclivity to create art that objectifies the body and humanizes the object, transforming everyday materials into novel forms of creative expression." The exhibit titles on the photographs are all just "Mathematical Model" with no explanation or context.

The exhibit also displays modern mathematical models and photographs by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. The exhibit is collecting Instagram pictures of these models taken by visitors themselves.

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