Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Courses of Instruction


Connections 20025. The Math in Art and the Art of Math

Mathematics and art have always been connected. Math has been used to create works of art (perspective, golden rectangles, fractals, even visualizations of the fourth dimension), while art has been used to expand mathematical knowledge (artistic perspective shaped the drawing of mathematical diagrams; da Vinci illustrated a math text on the Golden Mean). Math has also been used to analyze art, for example, classifying figures based on their symmetry or using fractals to study 17th century Japanese woodcuts or Jackson Pollock. Revolutions in art and in math, moreover, have often been closely tied: the Renaissance in art, preceded and to some extent made possible, the Renaissance in math; the new mathematical ideas of the fourth dimension and non-Euclidean geometry coincided roughly with the movement away from realism in the early 20th century.

MATH 122 will use the mathematical mode of inquiry to pose and answer questions relating to art and art history. The course will progress chronologically from ancient Egypt and Greece to the Renaissance and move forward from there. Although the material in the course is entirely mathematical, its topics as well as many of the examples and some of the work the students do will be drawn from the field of art and from materials that students will encounter in ARTH 111.

MATH 122 Math in Art
ARTH 111 Arts of the Western Tradition
or ARTH 211 Arts of the Western Tradition (Enhanced)