The complex collection of art combines mathematics, surrealism, and Shakespeare. This exhibition on the fusion of art and math opened on February 7 and will run until May 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
The Man Ray exhibit “Human Equations: A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare” is displayed in several galleries with Man Ray’s photographs, sculptures and paintings. An adjoining room displays Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Objects which displays metal sculptures and photographs of conceptual forms and mathematical models created by Hiroshi Sugimoto.
In 1934, Man Ray, a leader of the Dada and Surrealist movements, visited the Institut Henri Poincare in Paris to view three-dimensional mathematical models, made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to illustrate geometrical properties for the investigation and teaching of algebraic equations. Man Ray received an assignment to photograph these objects, which he transformed through lighting and composition to appear human like.
At the start of World War II, Man Ray fled France to Hollywood. In the United States his paintings, influenced by his mathematical photographs, resulted in a series of “non-abstraction” paintings. These paintings he eventually titled after Shakespearean plays.
This exhibition is the first to combine Man Ray’s photographs and painting with the corresponding mathematical models. His works defined modern art, which explores the intersection between art and science. This exhibition includes 70 photographs, 25 paintings, eight assemblages, and 25 original mathematical objects. In addition the exhibition includes additional Man Ray photographs, paintings, and sculpture that are not a part of the Shakespeare Equation, but also represent a fusion between art and science.
Take time to watch the video of an interview with Man Ray.
Visitors are encouraged to take an audio tour while viewing the Man Ray exhibition. The audio includes passages from Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. A mathematician talks about the mathematical principals of the objects on view. The curator provides an art historical perspective.
Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo), inspired by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, displays his mathematical photographs with his own towering aluminum or stainless-steel models.
Two in gallery interactive displays enhance the visitors understanding of the viewed art. “InstaManRay” include IPods which visitors use to photograph mathematical models which they manipulate with shadows, composition, and filters before publishing their own Instagram.
The interactive “Equation Morph” is adapted from an installation at the Museum of Mathematics in New York. The user experiments with this by choosing a mathematical models, then uses knobs to adjust the model’s equation and in turn, the shape of the large screen. Since I barely passed algebra 1; this interactive was beyond by comprehension. The education director at the Phillips said “STEM education should include an A for art resulting in STEAM education”. Art is a necessary part of education; “It’s All Math to Me” will expand the visitors knowledge of art and math.
The Phillips Collections is presenting several public programs, gallery talks, and tours relating to the exhibition. For information check www.phillipscollection.org/events.
The Phillips is located on 1600 21st Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. For admission information and hours call 2002-387-2151 or check www.PhillipsCollection.org.