Category Archives: Proportion

Sol Lewitt 1928-2007

DAILY MUSE | Sad news today. Connecticut’s own Sol Lewitt, modernist, minimalist and conceptual artist, died Sunday due to complications from cancer. Best known for his Wall Drawing series– those grandly scaled, vividly colorful drawings integrated into architectural spaces filling the frame of walls from edge to edge– he remained constant in his themes throughout his career; geometric and repetitive shapes, timeless childlike constructs on paper or in “structures” (as he referred to his sculptural work) that almost seemed obvious or inevitable. Their simplicity conjures up a sense of “I can do that!”. Not in that horrid, insulting way that is often applied to artists, but in the best sense… in that it offers permission and confidence to a viewer to step in and do it too. In that respect, his work always inspires creativity.

Lewitt’s work, while part of the minimalist and conceptual schools of thought which often inspire work so heavily intellectual that it can alienate viewers, never had that effect on me. His work was always humble and joyful– never pretentious.

Please enjoy some images of an enviable oeuvre from a masterful artist.

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The Geometry of Music

DAILY MUSE | I just read a fascinating article in the current Time Magazine summarizing new music theory discoveries describing a new understanding of the geometry of musical chord progressions. This theory can be applied to all forms of and differing musical styles and offers a new map enabling one to orient from one style to another. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

When you first hear them, a Gregorian chant, a Debussy prelude and a John Coltrane improvisation might seem to have almost nothing in common–except that they all include chord progressions and something you could plausibly call a melody. But music theorists have long known that there’s something else that ties these disparate musical forms together. The composers of these and virtually every other style of Western music over the past millennium tend to draw from a tiny fraction of the set of all possible chords. And their chord progressions tend to be efficient, changing as few notes, by as little as possible, from one chord to the next.

Exactly how one style relates to another, however, has remained a mystery–except over one brief stretch of musical history. That, says Princeton University composer Dmitri Tymoczko, “is why, no matter where you go to school, you learn almost exclusively about classical music from about 1700 to 1900. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

But Tymoczko may have changed all that. Borrowing some of the mathematics that string theorists invented to plumb the secrets of the physical universe, he has found a way to represent the universe of all possible musical chords in graphic form. “He’s not the first to try,” says Yale music theorist Richard Cohn. “But he’s the first to come up with a compelling answer.”

Continue reading the Time Magazine article “The Geometry of Music”

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