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Mathematical Painters

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Mathematics has always inspired humans to decorate their belongings and surroundings with mathematical patterns and designs. One of the earliest artefacts discovered is a 40 000 year old green stone bracelet from the Denisovskaya cave, Russia. And prehistoric hand stencils on a cave in Spain were probably made by neanderthals about 35 000 years ago – the first known symbolic art.

Some modern artists are more closely inspired by mathematics than others. MC Escher for example, or in this picture, the Swiss-German artist Paul Klee (1979 – 1940). This is Klee’s painting Castle and Sun, created in 1928. His greatest inspiration came when he visited Tunisia in 1914, where colour dominated his thinking. “I know that it has hold of me forever… Color and I are one. I am a painter.” He produced about 9 000 works of art in his lifetime, an amazing achievement.

A web search will discover some of these works – why not focus on the mathematical ones? Find your favourite Klee painting, for example, then analyse it for colour, shape and size. Try to copy it exactly or use it as an inspiration for your own mathematical work of art.