Creative Calculations: Famous Artists that Use Math

They say math and art don’t mix, but if you’ve ever seen a painting by M.C. Escher or Piete Mondrian, then you know that’s simply not true! Mathematics can be found in many forms of art throughout history.

It’s remarkable how some of the world’s most famous artists have actively incorporated mathematical concepts into their work. Whether they are deliberately trying to make a mathematical statement or simply looking for an interesting design aesthetic, many famous artists weave math into the fabric of their creations.

Beyond creating beautiful pieces of artwork, each example highlighted in this article serves as inspiration for other mathematicians and artists alike. Let’s explore some creative uses of math!

Famous Artists using Math

Famous Math Artists Throughout History

Math is more than just cold calculations. Mathematics is a language that can be used to express beauty, creativity, and emotion. From the Renaissance to modern times, math has been a powerful medium for creating stunning works of art.  For example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic “Mona Lisa” and “Vitruvian Man” both use basic geometric shapes as well as perspective to create the illusion of depth in his works.

In the 20th century, M. C. Escher used mathematical principles like platonic solids and non Euclidean geometry to give his work an otherworldly quality. For artists like Mondrian or Klee, sometimes the geometry IS the art, and for others like Picasso or Dali, the shape informed the art.

The wide range of math artists demonstrate that mathematics can be used as a powerful tool for creating beautiful works of art.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci is a legendary artist and inventor, renowned for his beautiful masterpieces. His works are admired and studied around the world, with many of them being deeply rooted in mathematics. For instance, the “Mona Lisa” and “Vitruvian Man” both use basic geometric shapes as well as perspective to create an illusion of depth in his paintings.

Da Vinci was also known to have been a mathematician himself and used mathematical principles when creating his artworks. He was passionate about understanding the nature of mathematics and frequently studied various branches of math such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

His works remain inspiring to this day, proving that mathematics can be used as a powerful tool for creating beautiful pieces of art.

It’s clear that Leonardo Da Vinci was a master of mathematics and art, paving the way for others to use math as an integral part of creating beautiful works of art. Now let’s explore some famous works that have taken advantage of this powerful tool.

Vitruvian Man: An Iconic Representation Of Mathematics In Art

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is an iconic representation of mathematics in art. Created in 1490, it is a drawing of a man with outstretched arms and legs inscribed within a circle and square. The drawing is based on the principles of the human body first described by the Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio in his book De Architectura. It symbolizes perfect symmetry and proportionality, which were two key elements of Renaissance ideals.

Vitruvian Man

The mathematical basis behind Vitruvian Man was revolutionary for its time, as it showed that mathematics could be used to represent beauty and harmony. Da Vinci’s meticulous attention to detail clearly demonstrates how important these ideals were to him.

Today, Vitruvian Man is an incredibly popular image that can be found on posters, t-shirts, jewelry, and other items around the world (just take a look at vitruvain man products on Amazon! Seriously, there’s even a vitruvian man action figure). It is a powerful reminder of the importance of math in art and shows us that math can be used to create something beautiful and lasting.

Mona Lisa’s Reflection On Mathematics

Mona Lisa’s captivating gaze has been the focus of many theories and discussions, but it turns out that there is much more to this famous painting than meets the eye. Upon closer inspection, the Mona Lisa reveals a reflection of mathematics in its composition.

The most obvious example of math in the painting is the use of basic shapes — circles, triangles and squares can be found throughout the painting. The curves and lines that make up her face, figure and dress also follow a mathematical principle known as the Fibonacci Sequence (also referred to as the golden ration and the divine proportion.) This ancient Greek concept states that certain proportions found in nature are aesthetically pleasing and were used by da Vinci to create a harmonious balance within his works.

Related Post:  Read more about the Fibonacci Sequence and other mathematical concepts that are key to creating balance and harmony in artworks.

The Mona Lisa is an example of how math can be used to create something beautiful. Its use of mathematical principles gives us insight into Leonardo da Vinci’s thoughts on art and beauty, while also showing us how powerful math can be when it comes to creating art.

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most beloved artists in history. His works are renowned for their vibrant colors and emotional impact. Did you know that Van Gogh was also heavily influenced by mathematics?

Starry Night is one of his most recognizable paintings. It doesn’t scream “math” when looking at its swirls paint and textures. Check out the video below for some insight on how math plays into its composition.

Van Gogh often used geometric shapes, such as circles and triangles, in his paintings. He also experimented with perspective and composition. In some of his paintings, he even used the Fibonacci sequence – a mathematical pattern found in nature – to create balance and harmony in his work.

Van Gogh’s use of math can be seen throughout works, from his famous Starry Night painting to his Wheatfield with Crows piece. He was able to take basic math principles and turn them into beautiful works of art that continue to captivate viewers today.

Wheatfield with Crows

The combination of art and mathematics has been an inspiration for many artists since Van Gogh’s time, but none have been able to capture the emotion and power of Van Gogh’s work quite like he did. His unique blend of creativity and mathematics makes him a true master who continues to inspire all those who appreciate art.

Van Gogh’s use of mathematics in his art is a testament to his genius, showing that art and mathematics can be combined to create something truly beautiful and powerful.

M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher is a beloved Dutch artist whose work has been admired by mathematicians and art enthusiasts alike. He was a master of creating intricate patterns and optical illusions, often featuring captivating geometric shapes. Escher had a unique ability to combine mathematics and art, using elements from geometry, topology, and number theory to create his works.

Escher’s most well-known work is arguably his ‘Relativity’ lithograph, which features three interlocking staircases that seem to defy the laws of gravity. But he also created some equally amazing pieces such as ‘Circle Limit III’, which features concentric circles filled with angels and devils in what appears to be an eternal battle for dominance.

Escher’s works have inspired generations of artists and mathematicians alike, showing us all that math can be used in beautiful, creative ways. His use of abstract shapes and mathematical principles have made him one of the most influential figures in the world of art, proving that math can be more than just equations on paper!

M.C. Escher’s work has stood the test of time, demonstrating that art and mathematics can be combined to create something truly extraordinary. 

Check out our Tessellation Coloring Packs to get a feel for how hypnotic these mathematical patterns can be!

Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer is one of the most famous artists of the 16th century, renowned for his woodcuts and engravings. His work revolutionized the world of printmaking and has stood the test of time as some of the most recognizable pieces in art history.

Durer used a wide range of mathematical principles in his works, from basic shapes to Archimedean solids. He also incorporated Platonic solid shapes into many of his pieces, adding an extra layer of depth and complexity to his works. His skillful use of geometry often gave his art a sense of perspective that was rarely seen at the time.

In addition to being a master artist and printmaker, Durer was mathematician. By combining mathematics with art, Albrecht Durer created some truly remarkable works that continue to amaze us today. His skillful use of geometric shapes, perspective, and symmetry allowed him to create beautiful prints that still inspire contemporary artists and mathematicians alike.

Albrecht Durer’s unique combination of artistry and mathematics allowed him to create timeless works of art that will continue to be admired for centuries to come.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali is one of the most iconic and influential artists of the 20th century. His surrealist paintings, sculptures, and sketches create a dream-like world full of bizarre characters and bizarre scenarios. Dali’s work is recognizable around the world thanks to his unique style that blends fantasy and reality with humor and wit.

One of his most famous works – The Sacrament of the Last Supper – contains numerous mathematical elements such as fractal curves, parabolic arches, and other shapes.

Dali’s use of mathematics in art has been widely praised by contemporary mathematicians and artists alike. He used mathematical shapes to create visual illusions that add depth and complexity to his works. Through this combination of artistry and mathematics, Salvador Dali created some truly remarkable pieces that are still admired today.

Salvador Dali’s fusion of art and mathematics is a testament to his genius and creativity. His works are truly timeless, inspiring generations of artists and mathematicians alike.

Related Post: Find out why Art is important to STEM and STEAM.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is one of the most renowned artists of all time. His works range from cubism to surrealism, and he was a master of both styles. But did you know that Picasso also had an interest in mathematics?

Picasso was inspired by many mathematical concepts such as symmetry, perspective, and the golden ratio. He often incorporated these elements into his artworks, creating complex compositions with depth and visual appeal. He even created a set of drawings based on the Platonic solids – a branch of mathematics that deals with three-dimensional shapes.

Picasso’s use of mathematics can be seen in some of his most iconic pieces such as Guernica and The Weeping Woman. By combining art with mathematics, Picasso was able to create works that are truly remarkable and timeless. Today, mathematicians and artists alike continue to be inspired by his genius use of mathematical principles in art.

Picasso’s blend of art and mathematics is a testament to his creative genius, setting the bar for all artists who followed.

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian is another artist whose work has been heavily influenced by mathematics. His signature style, known as Neo-Plasticism, is characterized by geometric shapes and blocks of black, white, and primary colors. This style was inspired by his study of theosophy and his interest in De Stijl – a Dutch artistic movement.

Mondrian often used basic shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles to create abstract works of art that have become some of the most recognizable pieces in the world. He also used mathematical concepts such as the Golden Ratio to create balance in his compositions.

In addition to these mathematical principles, Mondrian was also interested in exploring the harmony between opposite elements such as light and dark or chaos and order. By combining mathematics with aesthetic principles, he created works of art that are at once visually arresting and deeply meaningful.

Mondrian’s work continues to be an inspiration for many artists today who use math to explore their own creativity. From basic shapes to complex theories, mathematics can be used to create beautiful works of art that transcend time and culture – just like Piet Mondrian did!

Piet Mondrian’s innovative use of mathematics in his art has endured for generations and continues to inspire new artists. With his unique blend of aesthetics and mathematics, Mondrian has left behind a legacy that will be remembered forever.

Related Post:  Create your own works with us in our post on Math Art Projects for Kids (and adults)

Paul Klee

Paul Klee was a Swiss-German artist who used a wide range of mathematical concepts in his work. He is best known for his whimsical and dreamy watercolors, but he also experimented with various geometrical shapes in order to create abstract works of art.

Klee drew influence from the Bauhaus school of art, which used mathematics to explore the relationship between form and function. As a result, Klee’s works often featured geometric shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles. He also explored the Platonic solids – five regular three-dimensional polyhedra that have been studied since ancient times.

Klee was an avid student of math; he had attended lectures by mathematician David Hilbert at the University of Zurich, and he even taught himself about mathematical theories such as random walks. This knowledge informed his artwork; for example, many of his paintings feature spiral patterns that are based on logarithmic spirals.

In addition to mathematics, Klee also drew inspiration from nature and music – two subjects that often feature heavily in his artwork. His unique combination of technical skill and creative vision has made him one of the most beloved painters of the 20th century.

Paul Klee’s artwork is a testament to the beauty and power of mathematics, as well as its ability to inspire creativity. His works are a reminder that art and math can work together in harmony, creating timeless masterpieces.

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was a French artist famous for his vibrant use of color, and he also drew inspiration from mathematics. He was particularly interested in geometry, and he often used basic shapes such as circles and squares in his work.

Matisse’s art is full of mathematical relationships; for example, many of his paintings feature the golden ratio – a ratio found in nature that is considered aesthetically pleasing. He also experimented with other mathematical principles such as symmetry, repetition, and rhythm.

Matisse’s fascination with mathematics extended beyond the canvas; he believed that it could help him understand the world around him better. To this end, he studied Euclidean geometry and even hired a retired math teacher to tutor him privately.

Many of Matisse’s works feature an interplay between organic and geometric forms. He often used organic shapes to create abstract compositions that were still rooted in mathematical principles. His masterpieces are proof that math can be a powerful tool for creating art – one just needs to know how to use it!

Matisse’s art demonstrates the beauty and power of mathematics, proving that it can be used to create stunning artwork. This same idea is echoed in the work of Alexander Calder, whose sculptures use mathematical principles to create dynamic and captivating pieces.

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder was an American artist known for his hanging mobiles and sculptures. His work incorporated a wide range of mathematical principles, from basic shapes to more complex concepts.

Calder’s mobiles often feature geometric forms such as circles, triangles, and squares. He also used platonic solids like the dodecahedron, which are three-dimensional shapes composed of regular polygons. In addition to these shapes, Calder also experimented with random walks – a concept from mathematics that involves small changes in direction over time – to create dynamic sculptures.

Calder believed that geometry could help him capture the energy and movement of nature in his work. He even credited his school math teacher for inspiring him to explore art through mathematics. By blending the two disciplines together, he created captivating pieces that have stood the test of time.

Although Calder is best known for his mobiles, he worked on a wide variety of projects throughout his career. From public works to stage sets to jewelry designs, he found ways to use math in all aspects of his life and work. His unique approach demonstrated how math can be used creatively and has influenced generations of artists since then.

Alexander Calder demonstrated that math can be used to create captivating works of art, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations of artists to come. We’ll take a look at one such artist, Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff, and see how he uses mathematics in his work next.

Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff

Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff is a Dutch artist who incorporates mathematics into his artwork. He creates intricate geometric shapes and patterns to create captivating works of art that explore the mathematical properties of the natural world.

Verhoeff’s most famous pieces are his Apollonian Gaskets – three-dimensional sculptures composed of circles and triangles. He also uses geometrical shapes, such as spirals, hexagons, and stars, to create abstract works that blend math and art together in interesting ways.

In addition to creating sculptures, Verhoeff also teaches math classes at an art gallery in his hometown of Amstelveen. As a professor and educator, he encourages people to explore the link between math and art through creative projects. His work demonstrates how math can be used to create beautiful works of art that explore the hidden beauty of nature.

Verhoeff’s artistic style has inspired many other artists over the years, from David Reimann to Yana Mohanty. By combining mathematics with artistry, he has created captivating works of art that demonstrate the power of mathematics in nature and how it can be used creatively.

Other Famous Artists Using Mathematics

Mathematics and art have a complex relationship, with mathematics often being used as an integral part of creating beautiful works of art. From M.C. Escher’s mesmerizing tessellations to Yana Mohanty’s stunning sculptures, many famous works of art have used math in some way to create stunning pieces.

David Reimann is another artist who uses mathematics in his work. He explores random walks and fractal patterns by studying the movement of particles over time and translating them into artworks that are both aesthetically pleasing and conceptually intriguing.

Marcus du Sautoy is a mathematician turned professor-turned-artist who creates sculptures inspired by mathematical equations. His sculptures explore a wide range of topics including Archimedean solids, Apollonian gaskets and more.

Zaha Hadid was a renowned architect and artist who used mathematical principles in her designs. She was an early adopter of parametric design, which uses equations and algorithms to create forms that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Her work was often seen as groundbreaking for its boldness and creativity.  Her work often involved intricate geometries and curved surfaces, which she achieved through her use of parametric design.

Wrap Up – Artists Who Use Math

Math can be used for much more than solving equations at school or teaching students about trigonometry; it can be used to create incredible works of art that leave people both awestruck and enlightened!

Though we’ve highlighted some famous artists and pieces, there are many more works of art that incorporate math.  Once you know that it’s there, it’s hard not the spot the influence.  Next time you’re at a museum or see a print of a painting or see artwork online, see if you can recognize the math beyond the art.

Now that you have some examples of how math applies to art, create your own masterpiece along with us in these Art Projects using Math.


Howie Miller is as dedicated to fatherhood as he is to life long learning. Musician, Photographer, Educator, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Blogger, and founder of STEMtropolis, where you can share his adventures in STEM and STEAM with his family.

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