The Telegraph numeracy campaign has a review of Intersections, an exhibition available at The Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum and at the Royal Society from 5 April to 20 June 2012, which “throws new light on the often overlooked common ground of art and maths”.
The article writes about Henry Moore, who drew inspiration from the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum while a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s.
What particularly fired Moore’s artistic imagination in this gallery was the collection of 19th-century “ruled surface models” – a rather opaque name for what are arrangements of strings, pulled taut between either wood or metal plates, which can then be adjusted to create complex three-dimensional shapes with exotic names like conoid, ellipsoid and cylindroid. They were built – primarily in a workshop in Munich – in an effort to make real for students of pure mathematics, as well as trainee engineers and architects, geometric forms that could otherwise only be expressed in abstract equations.
But for Moore they were neither maths nor science. They were art, works of sculpture in their own right… Moore, and other groundbreaking British or British-based sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, began stretching taut strings across the voids in their works to create beguiling shapes. It is only exaggerating slightly to say that a whole tendency in British modernism began here in the Mathematics Gallery.
Boris Jardine, curator of the history of science at the Science Museum, is quoted saying:
The connections are there, it’s just a question of highlighting them. Some artists, for example, talk about experimenting in ‘pure forms’ and that is also what mathematicians do. Again, both artists and mathematicians would say that their work is essentially about exploring the underlying nature of the universe. And the notion of beauty is often discussed by mathematicians in relation to proofs and theorems, just as much as it is by artists.
The article also reports that:
in the summer, Jardine has plans to unveil a collection of colourful Pop Art screen prints by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi that the museum has recently acquired. The series, The Turing Suite, features a kaleidoscope of images of computer parts, inspired by the life of Alan Turing.
The paper has more detail and a photo.