Modes of thinking in art and science demonstrate notable affinities in a number of key areas of spatial visualisation. These typically involve plastic or dynamic visions of forms in space. During the 6th Einstein Lecture Dahlem on November 2, 2007, a series of telling examples will be explored, ranging from Leonardo to the present day.
The examples will be less concerned with ‘influence’ than in the defining of certain shared structures that emerge when we look at how visual intuition operates in problem-solving.
Martin Kemp is Professor of the History of Art at Oxford University. He has written and broadcast extensively on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. He speaks on issues of visualization and lateral thinking to a wide range of audiences.
Leonardo da Vinci has been the subject of many books and exhibitions by Kemp, including Leonardo (Oxford University Press 2004). Kemp has published on imagery in the sciences of anatomy, natural history and optics, including The Science of Art. Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale University Press).
Increasingly, Kemp has focused on issues of visualization, modelling and representation. He writes a regular column on “Science in Culture” in Nature (an early selection published as Visualisations, OUP, 2000). The Nature essays are developed in Seen and Unseen (OUP 2006), in which his concept of “structural intuitions” is explored. Forthcoming books include The Human Animal (Chicago).
Kemp was trained in natural sciences and art history at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute, London. He was British Academy Wolfson Research Professor (1993-98). For more than 25 years he was based in Scotland (Universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews). He has held visiting posts in Princeton, New York, North Carolina and Los Angeles.
Kemp has curated a series of exhibitions on Leonardo and on art and science, including Spectacular Bodies at the Hayward Gallery in London and Leonardo da Vinci. Experience, Experiment, Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006. He was also guest curator for Circa 1492 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1992.