Geometry as Art
Famed conceptual artist Sol Lewitt was renowned for separating the concept behind his art and the work itself. He did this by reducing art to one of its most basic forms, geometric figures. On Monday, Mr. Turner’s Advanced Geometry classes ventured North on Route 7 to Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA to visit his largest exhibition and dissect the intersection of Lewitt’s art and math. Our tour guide had just brushed up on her geometry and led us up a long covered walkway to Sol’s mid-career work. Standing in front of Wall Drawing # 422, a seemingly random series of rectangles, our guide Marissa explained that Lewitt instructed the artist to “divide the wall vertically into fifteen parts. All one-, two-, three-, and four-part combinations of four colors, using color ink washes.” Once understood, the pattern was readily apparent. “Fantastic,” said Jackie Pape ‘14. “It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. I pictured it to be three-dimensional shapes but his simple two-dimensional drawings were incredible.” We traversed all three floors, constantly amazed and surprised by the precision with which the drafters implemented Lewitt’s instructions. “Perhaps most impressive were the three circles drawn from three different midpoints on three separate walls,” stated Brian Bohaty ‘13.
“After visiting the museum earlier this year with my art class, it was fun to view Lewitt’s work from the perspective of a mathematician,” said Anna Driscoll ‘13. Math department chair and guest chaperone Kurt Schleunes was especially excited about Lewitt’s use of sine curves and properties of topology. “It was exciting to see the kids’ enthusiasm.” Students returned to Berkshire ready to create their own Sol Lewitt inspired artwork. Click here to view their assignment. Hopefully, these will be on display around campus shortly.
-- Jasper Turner, Math teacher