The connection between mathematics and
art goes back thousands of years. Mathematics has been used in the design of Gothic cathedrals, Rose windows, oriental rugs, mosaics and tilings. Geometric forms were fundamental to the cubists and many abstract expressionists, and award-winning sculptors have used topology as the basis for their pieces. Dutch artist M.C. Escher represented infinity, Möbius bands, tessellations, deformations, reflections, Platonic solids, spirals, symmetry, and the hyperbolic plane in his works.

Mathematicians and artists continue to create stunning works in all media and to explore the visualization of mathematics--origami, computer-generated landscapes, tesselations, fractals, anamorphic art, and more.

Share this page

Jump to one of the galleries

Most viewed

"Grey Moon Rising," by Klaus-Peter Kubik2904 viewsMany fractal formulas and algorithms produce conventional geometric figures with certain parameters. For example, the Julia set iterated using the origin as its parameter produces a circle. The style of Klaus-Peter Kubik is focused on producing conventional geometric figures using fractal techniques. He likes to explore the combinations of the simple figures of circles and squares with attractive shapes for the viewer. He also exploits the possibilities of fractal geometry to create textures. The rough, grey texture of the circle symbolizes the surface of the moon while the vertical and horizontal lines, similar to those made with a pencil, emphasize the geometric structure of the image. Klaus-Peter Kubik works for the German government in the public health field and has participated in nearly a dozen exhibitions since 1994.

"Night Hunter, opus 469," by Robert J. Lang. Medium: One uncut square of Korean hanji, composed and folded in 2003, 18". Image courtesy of Robert J. Lang. Photograph by Robert J. Lang.2858 viewsThe intersections between origami, mathematics, and science occur at many levels and include many fields of the latter. Origami, like music, also permits both composition and performance as expressions of the art. Over the past 40 years, I have developed nearly 600 original origami compositions. About a quarter of these have been published with folding instructions, which, in origami, serve the same purpose that a musical score does: it provides a guide to the performer (in origami, the folder) while allowing the performer to express his or her own personality through interpretation and variation.

--- Robert J. Lang

"Knot divided" (snow sculpture), by Carlo Sequin (University of California, Bekeley), Stan Wagon (Team Captain), John Sullivan, Dan Schwalbe, and Rich Seeley2811 viewsCan a DIVIDED KNOT be NOT DIVIDED? When carving this sculpture out of a 10x10x12 foot block of hard compacted snow, we started with the simplest possible knot: the overhand knot, also known as the trefoil knot. We then split lengthwise the whole ribbon forming the three big loops. But there is a twist that may lead to surprises: The original knotted strand was actually a triply twisted Moebius band! Thus the question: Does our cut separate the structure into two pieces, or does it form a single, highly knotted twisted strand? Read more about this snow sculpture. --- Carlo Sequin

"Trefoil Knot Minimal Surface," by Nat Friedman, Professor Emeritus, University of Albany - SUNY (2006)2764 viewsLimestone, 9" diameter by 4" depth. "This sculpture was carved from a circular piece of limestone. The form is based on the shape of the soap film minimal surface on a configuration of a wire trefoil knot. There is a nice interaction of the form and space with light and shadow." --- Nat Friedman, Professor Emeritus, University of Albany - SUNY

"Spiral with opaque lines," by Andreas Lober2763 viewsThis image belongs to a simple Julia set, but the refined technique of Andreas Lober, who graduated from the University of Heidelberg with a degree in mathematics, converted it entirely into a creative prodigy. The coloring algorithm is simple: find the minimum value of │z│ during the iteration, deflecting lightly the values pseudo-randomly; this produces the sine waves that heighten the composition. The values are trapped during the calculation in discrete intervals; this produces the peculiar coloring that appears to be done with colored pencils. Other preferences of Andreas Lober include designing tilings that cover the plane with squares containing geometric shapes, so that they fit perfectly with the adjacent eight squares. These experiments produce tesselations of great visual impact and, in this case, variations have been used to obtain the frames contained in the image.

"Frabjous," by George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)2736 viewsThis is an 11-inch diameter sculpture made of laser-cut wood (aspen). It is assembled from thirty identical pieces. Each is an elongated S-shaped form, with two openings. The aspen is quite light in color but the laser-cut edges are a rich contrasting brown. The openings add nicely to the whirling effect. The appearance is very different as one moves around it. This is an image of how it appears looking straight down one of the vortices. The word "frabjous" comes, of course, from "The Jabberwocky" of Lewis Carroll. "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" --- George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)

"Fingers Holding Secrets," by Joe Zazulak2661 viewsJoe Zazulak retired at the age of 55 from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in order to dedicate himself from then on to fractal art, to which he is a certified addict. This picture is called "Fingers Holding Secrets," and the name came to his mind while the image appeared slowly on his computer. From then he only worked in providing the delicate and smooth pearlescent texture that characterizes the image. Joe Zazulak never plans his images in advance, nor intuits what they will be after the creative process. He begins his works with a very simple structure, with hardly any color, and adds variations to the shape parameters intuitively until he obtains a pleasing result.

Kleinian Pearls2615 viewsPeople have long been fascinated with repeated patterns that display a rich collection of symmetries. The discovery of hyperbolic geometries in the nineteenth century revealed a far greater wealth of patterns, some popularized by Dutch artist M. C. Escher in his Circle Limit series of works.

This cover illustration portrays a pattern which is symmetric under a group generated by two Möbius transformations. These are not distance-preserving, but they do preserve angles between curves and they map circles to circles. The image accompanies "Double Cusp Group," by David J. Wright (Notices of the American Mathematical Society, December 2004, p. 1322).

"Star Corona," by George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)2608 viewsThis 8-inch, diameter, one-of-a-kind, acrylic sculpture consists of an inner red star surrounded by a yellow corona. It is designed to hang and the two components do not touch each other. The star has twelve large 5-sided spikes and twenty smaller 3-sided spikes, all assembled from sixty identical angular components. The corona is assembled from twenty identical curved components, which give the effect of swirling motion. If you look straight down on a spike, you see that arms from five of the yellow parts combine to make a circle around the spike. Both components are based on stellations of the icosahedron. The outer corona is based on the first stellation and the inner star shape is based on number 53 in the list by Coxeter et al. To understand it well, make a paper model from the instructions on my website.

--- George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)

"Xolis," by Jaroslaw Wierny2607 views"Xolis" is an abstract word for an abstract picture. Each person can give to it the significance they want, as the author does not pretend to predispose the viewer. The image was generated with Ultra Fractal and consists of 10 layers containing the two most famous fractal sets, the Julia set and the Mandelbrot set. Six different coloring algorithms are applied to these. Jaroslaw Wierny is a Polish graphic designer profoundly interested in the Buddhist philosophy, which he relates to the fractal structure of the world.

"Helios [var. 1198505515]," by Nathan Selikoff2513 viewsThis artwork is based on a rendering of a strange attractor, and is inspired by extreme ultraviolet images of our sun. Helios is part of the "Aesthetic Explorations of Attractor Space" series, more of which can be seen at www.nathanselikoff.com/strangeattractors/.

Underlying each image in this series of work is a two-dimensional plot of the "typical behavior" of a chaotic dynamical system. Of course, there is nothing typical about a strange attractor, as it is chaotic and has a fractal structure. The base images are computed with a set of iterated functions, which serve as a numerical approximation to integrating the underlying differential equations. The iterated functions contain four coefficients, which are controlled by sliders in interactive custom software and control the appearance of the attractor. Once a particular form is settled on, it is rendered as a high-resolution 16-bit grayscale image. Finally, in Photoshop, the render is colorized using gradient mapping and edited to enhance contrast, control composition, and add special effects. The number in the artwork title encodes the moment at which the attractor was "discovered" and archived for rendering.

"20040402," by Samuel Monnier2496 viewsThe title of this picture does not involve any mathematical riddle, but is simply the reference number by which Samuel Monnier identifies his pictures. This young Swiss man, who is preparing for his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics, does not like to put titles on his pictures as he feels it interferes with the sensations his work can produce in the viewer. The basic concept on which this image rests is to begin with a more or less repetitive initial design and superimpose various layers with this design at different scales. This procedure generates an image that shows structures with a wide range of scales, although from a strict point of view one cannot consider it to be fractal.

"Fractal Scene II," by Anne M. Burns (Long Island University, Brookville, NY)2401 views"Mathscapes" are created using a variety of mathematical formulas. The clouds and plant life are generated using fractal methods. The mountains are created using trigonometric sums with randomly generated coefficients; then, using 3-D transformation, they are projected onto the computer screen. Value and color are functions of the dot product of the normal to the surface with a specified light vector. See the Gallery of "Mathscapes and find citations for my articles on modeling trees, plants and mountains, and on "blending and dithering," at http://myweb.cwpost.liu.edu/aburns/gallery/gallery.htm. --- Anne M. Burns (Long Island University, Brookville, NY)

"(1,3,5) Pretzel Knot," by Jarke J. van Wijk (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven). Image courtesy of Jarke J. van Wijk.2375 viewsThe yellow tube is a (1, 3, 5) pretzel knot. Such a pretzel knot or link consists of a sequence of angles, where each tangle has a number of twists. The brown surface is a Seifert surface: an orientable surface bounded by the knot. Here the surface is easy to understand; for arbitrary knots such surfaces often have strange and difficult shapes. However, for any knot or link such surfaces can be found, as shown by Herbert Seifert in the 1930's. This image was made with a tool called SeifertView.

--- Jarke J. van Wijk

"72 Pencils," by George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)2372 views"72 Pencils" is a geometric construction of 72 pencils, assembled into a work of art. The form is an arrangement of four intersecting hexagonal tubes that penetrate each other in a fascinating three-dimensional lattice. For some viewers, part of the interest lies in the form of the interior. The four hexagonal tubes are hollow, so the sculpture as a whole is hollow. But, what shape is its cavity? What would someone on the inside see? To the mathematician, the answer is "the rhombic dodecahedron," a geometric solid bounded by twelve rhombuses. See two other views, showing how it looks along various axes of symmetry, at www.georgehart.comwww.georgehart.com. --- George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)