Composing in the round: polygons in traditional art

Subject: Lectures
Dates: 19 June 2019
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Location: The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts
Tutor: Michael S. Schneider
Full price
£ 7
Student concession
£ 5
OAP concession
£ 5

While often overlooked, there is abundant evidence of the intentional use of geometry in the composition of traditional arts, crafts and architecture. This was often accomplished through the use of regular polygons, frequently concentric, to establish proportional systems within a composition and thus create a feeling of unity within the work by harmonising its disparate elements of form, decoration, and purpose.

Polygonal composition also allowed the incorporation of number and shape symbolism associated with religion, mythology, culture and the organization of society, within a work of art. This presentation will reveal the appearance of regular polygons found within round (tondo) creations from across the ancient world.

Through many examples we’ll see how polygonal shapes, patterns and proportions have been applied to harmonise the elements of great painting, jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, architecture and more across a variety of cultures and centuries.

Image: Necklace of Faience Beads 

Reign of Akhenaten

1353 - 1336 BC

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Tutor biography

Michael S. Schneider

Michael S. Schneider has been an educator for 44 years He delights in exploring the intersections of nature, science, mathematics, art, philosophy and religion.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1972) and a Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Florida (1977).

He’s the author of “A Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art and Science” as well as six accompanying "Constructing The Universe Activity Books" workbooks teaching geometric construction with a compass overlaid upon their appearances in nature, art and technology.

Michael was a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar in India (1977) studying ancient mathematics and sciences and has worked on special projects at the New York Academy of Sciences. He has held workshops for educators at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York including “Science in the Art Museum,” “The Mathematics of Islamic Art” and “Showing Children Harmony.” In 1993 he designed the geometry harmonizing the statues on the south side of the “Portal of Paradise” (central entrance) to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. For 17 years, until recently, he taught this use of mathematics to art students at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.