Lionel Salem

Science in Art Publication date : May 1, 2000

From Antiquity to the contemporary period, artists have shown an interest in objects and scientific concepts, not only in order to depict them, but also to use them as symbols.
From Jasper Johns’ “crosshatchings” to Constable’s clouds and Hokusai’s waves, artists have wished to represent science in their art. In order to depict a moving form, they have even cut it up or made sculptures using special alloys whose form may be altered by time.
Above all, science has offered artists a way of creating symbols: a sphere for perfection, a pyramid for glorification. Symmetry is the perfect example of this multi-faceted symbolism, and has been used by artists as diverse as Botticelli, Raphael and Blake.
This book, with its very clear, simple text, aims to highlight the different ways in which artists have tried to apprehend, understand and go beyond science. The variety of their inspiration is a homage to the richness of art.

A lover of contemporary art, Lionel Salem has taught at the University of Paris-South, and was formerly a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. He founded the centre for the popularisation of knowledge at the Universities of Paris XI and Paris VI.