Art is Like Science: It Shows Us Our World

Paul Klee

Art is Like Science: It Shows Us Our World, is written by an anonymous guest writer. The images are by Paul Klee.

Is art like science, or is art, indeed, science? If science and art are two close cousins, then maybe it is time for a family reunion. If art is like science perhaps there is another whole audience for art out there somewhere amidst the beakers and Bunsen Burners.

Any artist will tell you he or she uses science to paint a picture. The primary colors of yellow, blue and red can be mixed to produce any shade of any color. These colors can also be washed over one another, and not mixed at all, to give the illusion of a certain color as well. That, however, is only one example of science in art. The canvas ( or the paper) is a two-dimensional world, and yet when you view a portrait, a landscape or a still-life, you see things that seem to have substance. That is because artists have learned that the mind can be tricked by illusions. They use shadow, contrast, reflections, perspective and contours to convince the brain it is seeing something it is not.

Paul Klee

Scientists have known for a long time that our brains use a very simple kind of physics to understand the world. Sometimes, the mere representation of a line will cause us to perceive the whole thing. Artists can insert an impossible shadow, a “hiccup” in perspective or another illusion that will give us a satisfying visual experience when the actual subject is fragmented. In short, artists understand how to use illusion to “trick” the viewer into emotional responses to pictures. Often, the artist can illuminate something in his presentation that the real-world viewer would not even notice, like a dimple in a child’s cheek or the shadow on a wall of an unseen blossom.

Paul Klee recognized the power of art to influence how we perceive the world when he wrote, “Art does not represent the visible world, it makes the world visible.”

For more about art and the way it shapes our world, contact us. Be amazed by the science of art.


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