MEASURE & BEAUTY
Contrary to what a critic might say, you need no degree in art, either to measure or to make beauty.
ARTS & MEASURE:
NUMBER, PROPORTION, BEAUTY
The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science.
– Albert Einstein (quoted in The Golden Ratio, by Mario Livio)
In order to talk about art, we need to examine our terms and assumptions, to establish a common language by which to build understanding. That requires common experience. Otherwise, confusion reigns.
The artist did not think of his art as a “self-expression,” nor was the patron interested in his personality or biography. The artist was usually, and unless by accident, anonymous, signing his work, if at all, only by way of guarantee: it was not who, but what was said, that mattered. A copyright could not have been conceived where it was well understood that there can be no property in ideas, which are his who entertains them: whoever thus makes an idea his own is working originally, bringing forth from an immediate source within himself, regardless of how many times the same idea may have been expressed by others before or around him.
— Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Nature of Medieval Art”
DRAW ME A LEAF
Drawing a leaf offers a simple yet powerful way to talk about principles that apply equally to graphic design, sculpture, architecture, or urban planning. To draw a leaf, you have to identify all the parts: stem, veins, top and bottom surfaces, and edges. The parts vary in quality from species to species. I’m unlikely to mistake a nettle leaf for a fern. Neither, however, would I confuse either of them for bark, branches, or roots. As leaves, they share essential properties.
LINES & LETTERS / LITERACY & Participation
Reading, for a man devoid of prior understanding, is like a blind man’s looking in a mirror.
— Aristotle, Metaphysics, VI: 2, 4 & XI: 8, 12;
quoted by Ananda Coomaraswamy, in “The Bugbear of Literacy.”