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Honor Pythagoras, Per I--Per VI

1964 Alfred Jensen Born: Guatemala City, Guatemala 1903 Died: Livingston, New Jersey 1981 oil on canvas overall: 84 x 300 in. (213.4 x 762 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Hugh W. Downe and museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum 2001.35A-F Not currently on view


Gallery Label

In Honor Pythagoras, Per 1—Per VI, the thousands of shapes and color strokes symbolize the unity that Jensen saw behind art and science, feeling and thinking. The colored triangles represent prisms that break white light into brilliant hues, suggesting the mystical insight that Jensen felt mathematics offered. Jensen was born to a Danish couple living in Guatemala, and this enormous painting evokes the astronomical calendars found in Mesoamerican temple ruins. He arranged thick strokes of red, yellow, blue, and green in triangles and squares to express the inter-relatedness of all things. Colors affect us by their relation to one another, numbers take their meaning from combinations, and geometry underlies the basic shapes of the universe.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Keywords

Abstract - geometric

Allegory - arts and sciences - mathematics

painting

About Alfred Jensen

Born: Guatemala City, Guatemala 1903 Died: Livingston, New Jersey 1981