Adding Up

7 February 2010

To Tate Modern where I catch the new exhibition focusing on Dutch twentieth century artist Theo Van Doesburg and the De Stijl group.

One painting, this one from his Art Concret period, stands out among all the others:

Arithmetic Composition

It’s a gem. And a perfect example of a visual representation of a recursive formula, a function, where the value becomes the argument.

Put simply the sides of each square and the distance between them are half the size of the preceding square. I read that it’s a way of creating the illusion of perspective on a flat surface but I think he was reaching for something higher or deeper than that. The effect is one of  balance, a dynamic serenity.

Here’s a study he made for the painting that gives a glimpse of its skeleton:

Study for Arithmetic Compostion

And if you like your recursion infinite, you’ll love this page at Go Geometry.