Mead Art Museum exhibit highlights artistic response to science

“Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein” is now on view at the Mead Art Museum. The exhibition features 70 artworks that showcase how many of the 20th century’s most significant artists—including Kandinsky, Calder, and Miro—were inspired by the scientific discoveries of their time.

A 60-line statement signed by 25 artists back in 1936 Paris looked to explain dimensions of art forms that artists were both embracing as well as escaping with the advancement of scientific understanding.

Einstein’s theories had shown time and space to be interwoven, and that light curved around a massive object in space becomes a lens through which what was hidden beyond can be seen.

As Mario Nissim, one of the initial endorsers of the statement, known as the “Dimensionist Manifesto" and written by the Hungarian poet Charles Sirato, put it, the result of such knowledge on art-making meant objects “wish to break through the canvas.”

Artists were inspired not to confine their work to the two- or three-dimensional nor to be consider separate from their work but be guided by a theory of “N + 1," that is, the addition of a new dimension to the old (N).

Sculpture became planetary mobiles, moved by small motors, as in the work of Alexander Calder.

Art was pushed into new dimensions for some by science’s evolving understanding of space, time, light and motion.

It is this convergence that the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College explores in its exhibit, “Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein.”

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