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New Angles on Art

Do art and math have anything in common? How do artists and architects use math to create their works? In these lessons, students will explore the intersection of math and art in the works of two artists and one architect for whom mathematical concepts (lines, angles, two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional polyhedra, fractions, ratios, and permutations) and geometric forms were fundamental.

Sol LeWitt’s Concepts and Structures
Grade Level: 9–12

Students will consider the term "conceptual art" and the role of math (geometry, fractions, permutations) in producing this art. They will first create a conceptual art piece by following a set of Sol LeWitt’s instructions. Then, they will design two conceptual art plans using math concepts—one in two-dimensions, another in three—for a student-partner to follow.

Geometry and Tony Smith Sculpture
Grade Level: 5–8

Students will identify polygons and angles in Tony Smith’s sculpture Moondog. They will then create a sculpture with polyhedra nets, calculate the cost of covering sculpture in gold, and write an exhibit label for their finished sculpture. Lastly, they will research the origin of words related to geometry.

I. M. Pei and the Geometry of the NGA
Grade Level: 5–8

Students will compare and contrast design elements in neoclassical and modern architecture, using the National Gallery of Art’s West and East Buildings. Then they will design a geometric pattern using Pei's polygons. Last, they will consider the role of geometry in planning and designing buildings and cities by creating their own city plan using a variety of lines and polygons.