Art and Science – By Eliane Strosberg

“Throughout history, science and art have reflected similar values and used parallel tools and methods. Artists and scientists today are intrigued by the advancements in each other’s fields. Artists are fascinated by atomic structure, the Big Bang, and DNA, while scientists try to explain theories with images that will embody “the beauty of their logic.”


Art and Science – By Eliane Strosberg
Download the full-text pdf – UNESCO

Excerpt from: Art and Science


What is common to art and science? Creation. Or rather the drive that impels creativity.

The thrill of the word and sound, of the color, lines and shapes of art, The temerity of the scientific hypothesis which extends beyond reality. What is the aim of a creative act in art or science? To surpass reality. Art suggests the infinite variations of realitys manifestations, which are impossible to capture with the usual senses. That such expressions are part of a long and complex chain is all that we know.

One of my teachers at Oxford, a Nobel Prize winner, said: “We should seek what others have not seen, think what others have not thought of.” Is that not the essence of creation? Malraux lucidly stated this in a text on cultural heritage written in 1936: “The convincing force of a work… lies in the difference between it and the works that preceded it. ” He illustrated the subject by quoting Giotto, but could have made his point just as well by discussing Einsteins theory of relativity.

Occasionally, when science reaches beyond its frontiers, it merges with philosophy. Likewise, art can be dematerialized — boiled down to pure ideas. Artists exercise the same self-discipline and rigor as scientists.

Creation, whether in art or science, is a long journey. Some believe that youth is a prerequisite of creativity. This is not necessarily the case. We obviously all admire Mozarts precocity, but equally admirable is the expression of a maturer mind, one whose critical faculties have been nurtured over time and through experience.

It is difficult to be thrilled by anything that is too neatly served up. I do not particular1y appreciate pure evidence, creations to which nothing can be added. I much prefer to come upon works in the making, which draw audiences into the exhilarating struggle of creation — in which anyone can be a co-creator, a participator in the act of creation. This is what I thought recently while listening to the great cellist Rostropovich who, at every performance, recreates music with unparalleled enthusiasm: it is this invitation to share beauty that embodies the true act of genius.

“Dare to know:” such was the motto at Oxford. Perhaps the opposite is even more true: “Know how to dare.” To dare to invent, to innovate and create, to escape routine and provoke the unpredictable. As the days roll on, until the very end, we should fully reinvent each day itself and dare to paint it with fresh colors.

Federico Mayor

Director-General of UNESCO


Relativity, Maurits Cornelis Escher, 1953


The Astronomica Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral, 15th Century.

In medieval monasteries, work and prayer were regulated by the ringing of bells; days were divided into periods based on the total time elapsed between sunrise and sunset, but this duration varied from day to day. The necessity for telling time became widespread, and common standards were established. The day was divided into 24 equal segments – the hours – shared by all. In todays industrialized world, clocks controlled by atomic vibrations are accurate to within a millionth of a second.


Enigma, Isia Leviant.

After the viewer stares at these color rings for a few moments, the rings apparently start to rotate. Such works of art help to reveal how the brain interprets signals. Scientists can now localize specific brain cells which interpret colors, shapes, and other signs that were used by abstract painters to achieve emotional ends fifty years ago.


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