ART & MATHEMATICS: from the aesthetics of Art to the logic of Mathematics

 An exhibition of works by M.C. Escher and V. Vasarely, from the permanent collections the Museum Herakleidon. The works were chosen along the theme of “Art and Mathematics”, a ‘gate’ that the Museum Herakleidon opened when it was founded in 2004 and that it holds wide open, both for the general public and the education community. It has already been announced that the founders of the museum, Paul and Belinda Firos, have decided to focus the museum’s activities on learning and education, in a productive dialogue between art and science, which will evidence the artistic and scientific potential of our country and will broaden the intellectual horizons of the public.

The first floor of the museum was dedicated to the exhibition of works by the French painter, of Hungarian descent, Victor Vasarely (1906-1997), universally recognized as the father of Op-Art. Twenty-five of his serigraphs will be on display. The artist believed in what he called “social art”, not wanting art to be the privilege of the ‘elite’. He often wrote about his belief in the dissemination of art and the value of multiples: "I dream of a social art. I imagine man as having a deep desire for the visual arts, just as he does for music. About the subject of his art, he stated: I had no experience of the true revelation of the “abstract” until 1947, when I realized that pure “shape-color” can represent the world [...] a plastic unit in a square or a rectangular plane that comprises shapes of geometric origins, in colors or contrasts”.

The second floor of the exhibition was dedicated to the work of the Dutch print maker and graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972). Approximately forty prints from the museum’s collection will be on display. Escher considered himself purely a graphic artist, leaving it to the scientists to interpret his works in mathematical terms. Beginning in the 1950s he gained supporters among mathematicians and other scientists, having kindled their interest with his art. To this day his work constitutes a symbolic bridge between science and art.

The Museum Herakleidon invites the art-loving public to step through the ‘gate’ that it has opened and to enjoy a fascinating tour, from the aesthetics of art to the logic of mathematics.

Maurits Cornelis Escher was born on June 17th 1898, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. He was raised in Arnhem and at an early age he showed his special talent for drawing. In 1919, Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. He briefly studied architecture, but failed a number of subjects and switched to decorative arts. Here he studied under Samuel Jessurum de Mesquita, with whom he would remain friends for years. In 1922, Escher traveled through Italy and Spain. He was impressed by the Italian countryside and by the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain. He came back to Italy regularly in the following years. In was in Italy that he met Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. The young couple settled down in Rome and stayed there until 1935, when the political climate under Mussolini became unbearable. The family next moved to Château-d'Œx, Switzerland where they remained for two years. Escher was decidedly unhappy in Switzerland, so in 1937, the family moved again, to Ukkel, a small town near Brussels, Belgium. World War II forced them to move again in January 1941, this time to Baarn, the Netherlands, where Escher lived until 1970. Escher moved to the Rosa Spier House for the elderly in Laren in 1970, where he died on March 27, 1972, at 73 years of age.

Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) Victor Vasarely is considered the leader of Op Art (opticokinetic art) a mathematically themed form of abstract art which developed in the early 1960s with an aim to stimulating the eye through a radical use of shapes and colours. Vasarely's innovations in optical illusion and kinetic art have inspired many contemporary artists. The artist was born in 1906 in Pecs, Hungary. He studied art at the Podolini-Volkmann private academy in Budapest. He discovered abstract art while studying at the Mόhely Academy, a center for Bauhaus thought in Budapest. After his first solo exhibition in 1930, in the Kovaks Akos Gallery, in Budapest, Vasarely settled in Paris, where for the next 13 years he pursued a graphic design career. In 1944 he exhibited 150 drawings and graphic work at the inauguration of the Galerie Denise Rene in Paris, after which began a four-year period during which he worked exclusively in oil. In 1947 he published his first series of prints. At this time, he also returned to nature and geometrical forms. In 1955, Vasarely wrote his "Yellow Manifesto", developing the idea of "plastic kinetics" and returning to Bauhaus ideas of art. In 1968, he began experimenting with deforming lines, leading to the Vega period. During the '60's and '70's Vasarely's images became part of popular culture, influencing architecture, fashion, and design in general. Vasarely died in Paris, in 1997, at the age of 91. Although he acquired fame, he insisted on making his art accessible to all. His motto was "Art for All"

Exhibition Curators

Apostolos Papanikolaou, Aris Mavrommatis, researchers in the Didactics of Mathematics

communication sponsors


Main Building: 16 Herakleidon Str, Thissio, 118 51 Athens, Greece,  Τ: 210 34 61 981, F: 210 34 58 225, Ε: 
Annex: 37 Apostolou Pavlou Str , Thissio, 118 51, Αthens, Greece, T: 211 012 6486, E: