Composite, MoMath’s exciting temporary exhibition gallery, serves as the home to a diverse collection of shows and installations that highlight the breadth of human pursuits that mathematics can illuminate. Visiting Composite is free with admission to the Museum.
Traces reveals the hidden patterns created as objects move through space: the pathways of birds in flight, the oars of a kayaker on a still lake, or even the drumsticks of a jazz percussionist. Sometimes periodic but always organized, the traces of these movements — revealed by the technologically savvy artists in this exhibit — are as intriguing as they are beautiful. Take in the stunning visuals, explore the underlying mathematics of the artwork, and manipulate interactive exhibits to create your own unique light traces. Traces features the work of Xavi Bou, Will Calhoun, and Stephen Orlando.
Previously featured in Composite
Building Beauty: The Harmonograph Art of Ivan Moscovich
October 2021 to April 2022
This solo show includes almost three dozen original pieces of Ivan’s art — created using his custom-made (and patented) harmonograph — and explores the intersection of the mathematics of Lissajous curves with the aesthetics of beautiful art. Ivan fashioned the harmonograph, an analog drawing machine that uses pens and pendulums, to generate an incredible variety of elegantly swirling, multi-colored graphic configurations known as Lissajous patterns. First exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968, the work it produced was acclaimed as the best math art of the time. Since then, Ivan’s creations have been shown in major exhibitions in locations including Berlin, Basel, Mexico City, Tel Aviv, and San Francisco, with a renewed interest in his work in the last few years.
The show includes two working harmonographs for visitors to explore how the artwork is created and make their own works to take home.
July 2021 to October 2021
Anton Bakker takes us on a journey into a world of mathematical beauty with an added twist: a change in perspective seems to change the very reality of the object before you. Anton’s sculptures — executed in steel, in bronze, or as digital interactives — fix points in space that, as the eye connects them, reveal harmonious alignments as three-dimensional paths. Lines, curves, knots, spirals, Möbius strips, optical illusions, and fractals — all are explored in this highly engaging show. Bakker’s work is complemented by two special pieces: an unusual and surprising work by engineers-turned-artists Walt van Ballegooijen and Hans Kuiper and a creative mathematical sculpture by former Bell Labs scientist Alan White. Rare works by renowned artist M.C. Escher (collection of Rock J Walker / Walker Fine Art) are shown alongside Bakker’s stunning works of art, inspired in part by the work of Escher.
Venn Pirouettes, the Art of Michael Schultheis
January 2020 to March 2020
Michael Schultheis paints and sculpts using math equations as models for stories about human relationships: limaçon curves that have interior and exterior loops are used to represent a person’s interior and exterior, while Venn diagrams demonstrate the way in which humans overlap in their relationships with one another. His work explores the many intersections between mathematics and art.
Math Unfolded: An Exhibit of Mathematical Origami Art
July 2019 to January 2020
Start with a piece of flat paper, make a few folds, and suddenly you have a landscape of mountains and valleys, shadows and light. Make more folds and you have an object that is deeply surprising in its transformation and artistic beauty. Math Unfolded was a temporary exhibition in Composite, the gallery at MoMath, that demonstrated how origami artists persuade paper to embody the beauty of mathematics. The exhibit featured the creations of more than 20 artists who use mathematical inventions and interpretations to create compelling works of art. This exhibition was curated by Charlene Morrow, the Board Chair of OrigamiUSA, and Wendy Zeichner, the CEO of OrigamiUSA.
April 2019 to July 2019
Solid Math was a temporary exhibition in Composite, the gallery at MoMath, featuring sculptures based on the geometry of Platonic, Archimedean, and Catalan polyhedra. The inherently precise nature and elegant symmetries of these mathematical forms have made them subjects of fascination for mathematicians over the centuries.
A work of art is very often a balance between constraint and freedom, an exploration of expressive possibilities within a finite set of compositional rules. This exhibition featured the work of mathematically inclined artists — Rinus Roelofs, Bathsheba Grossman, Carlo H. Séquin, Henry Segerman, Phil Webster, and Hans Schepker — who have created works based on the geometry of regular polyhedra. These mathematical forms provide the formal constraints as well as the rhythmic underpinnings for the artists’ pieces presented in this show.
What’s So Funny About Math?
February 2019 to March 2019
What’s So Funny About Math? was a temporary exhibition in Composite, the gallery at MoMath, featuring a collection of cartoons related to math and curated by former New Yorker Cartoon Editor and present Cartoon and Humor Editor of Esquire, Bob Mankoff. Each cartoon was paired with commentary from someone interesting who works in a math-related field. Cartoonists featured in the show included Roz Chast, Drew Dernavich, Dana Fradon, James Stevenson, Robert Leighton, Jack Ziegler, Charlie Hankin, Sidney Harris, Nate Fakes, Dan Reynolds, Mike Seddon, Pat Byrnes, Mark Heath, Nick Kim, and of course, the inimitable Bob Mankoff himself.
March 2018 to July 2018
MoMath presents Reflections, an exploration of the intriguing geometries of the reflected world. Reflections have fascinated humanity since time immemorial. The nature of the image we see in a mirror, or in a still body of water, can seem paradoxical and mysterious. Through a series of engaging interactive experiences, Reflections explored the intriguing geometries of the reflected world, revealing profound truths about the very nature of space.
Reflections featured the work of artists Michael Curry and Scott Kim; MoMath is also grateful for the contributions of David Sweet and Alan White.
Eroded Theories: The sculptures of Antal Kelle ArtFormer
July 2017 to August 2017
Award-winning artist Antal Kelle ArtFormer visited MoMath to discuss his artwork, Helix Opus 124, and to showcase other artworks through a series of photographs from his “Eroded Theories” collection, taken by his daughter, Emese Kelle-Kaleem, and curated by Kristof Fenyvesi.
The Insides of Things: The art of Miguel Berrocal
October 2016 to May 2017
Featuring the work of Spanish sculptor Miguel Berrocal, MoMath’s art exhibit The Insides of Things: The Art of Miguel Berrocal showcased the masterful craftsmanship of Berrocal’s art. Visitors were able to try their hands at assembling and disassembling a replica of one of Berrocal’s stunning works and discovered why the piece had something in common with MoMath’s Enigma Café.
The National Museum of Mathematics wishes to thank the late Samuel Sensiper for his donation of the Berrocal collection as well as Michele and Stan Rosen for supporting the opening reception in his memory.
December 2014 to April 2014
Evoking figures from ancient Egypt to the medieval Silk Road to modern casinos, light artist Matt Brand has captured some of history’s most intriguing thinkers. Luminaries featured the world’s first large-scale show of lumography — smooth, water-clear lenses whose undulating surfaces rearrange light beams into ghostly morphing pictures. Many years in development, Brand’s marriage of sand castle mathematics and swimming pool optics premiered on December 6, 2014 and closed on April 30, 2015.
May 2014 to September 2014
In Compounding Visions, twins Ryan and Trevor Oakes demonstrated their method for creating spherically concave drawings — a technique that has been described as one of the most original breakthroughs in the rendering of visual space since the Renaissance. The artists spent four weeks creating a new concave drawing of the Flatiron Building from a vantage in Madison Square Park, using their custom curved metal easel and referencing Edward Steichen’s haunting iconic 1904 photograph of that then-freshly-built NYC landmark.
Do you have a great idea for a mathematical art show? Send it to MoMath! Applications are open here: applycomposite.momath.org.