Art & Science


Throughout my life I’ve been interested in the relationship between art and science. It’s come up in a lot of my work, both creative and critical. I’m currently working on a couple of projects that look for ways to align art and science, demonstrating the ability of both fields to increase human knowledge and provide solutions for society’s challenges. I’ll be posting more information here about these projects in the future.

The wealthy are always surrounded by hangers-on; science and art are as well.

-Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904),
Russian author, playwright. The professor in
A Boring Story, Works, vol. 7, p. 276,
“Nauka” (1976).



Art Science Research Lab – founded by Rhonda Roland Shearer and the late Stephen Jay Gould
Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI) – a for-profit group that charges for their bulletins and services
CUNY Graduate Center, Science & the Arts program
Dactyl Foundation
Engineering Arts – for artists who need science or engineering advice
The Exploratorium
Hollywood Math – to help screenwriters get the science right in their scripts – a webzine focused on science in literature
• Princeton University’s annual Art of Science Competition – for scientific, nature and medical illustrators
SciTalk – database to pair creative writers with scientists and vice versa
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
STAGE (Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration) – they host an annual playscript competition

Funding Bodies

Blouin Foundation
Dana Foundation
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (UK)
Sloan Foundation
Wellcome Trust (UK)

Publications & Other Media

Radio Lab
Science & the City
Science Blogs
Studio 360

People: Critics & Academics

Martin J. Kemp – a professor a Oxford specializing in Leonardo da Vinci who writes extensively on science and art

Articles & Other Materials or Resources

When Is “Science on Stage” Really Science?, by Carl Djerassi for American Theatre, Vol. 24 (January 2007), pp. 96-103.
National Pulic Radio Series: Where Science Meets Art
Nature magazine’s Science, art and culture archive
Outline of a ‘Biology for Artists’ course for undergraduates


20th Century

What is done for science must also be done for art: accepting undesirable side effects for the sake of the main goal, and moreover diminishing their importance by making this main goal more magnificent. For one should reform forward, not backward: social illnesses, revolutions, are evolutions inhibited by a conserving stupidity.
-Robert Musil (1880–1942), Austrian author. The Obscene and Pathological in Art (1911), a polemic against censorship of the arts, and Musil’s first published essay (in the journal Pan). Robert Musil, Precision and Soul. Essays and Addresses, p.9, ed. and trans. by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1990).

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.
-Isaac Asimov (1920–1992), Russian-born U.S. author. The Roving Mind, ch. 25, Prometheus (1983).

Science may be described as the art of systematic over- simplification.
-Karl Popper (b. 1902), AngloAustrian philosopher. quoted in Observer (London, Aug. 1, 1982).

The belief that established science and scholarship—which have so relentlessly excluded women from their making—are “objective” and “value-free” and that feminist studies are “unscholarly,” “biased,” and “ideological” dies hard. Yet the fact is that all science, and all scholarship, and all art are ideological; there is no neutrality in culture!
-Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 1 (1986). From a 1979 commencement address delivered at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

In science men have discovered an activity of the very highest value in which they are no longer, as in art, dependent for progress upon the appearance of continually greater genius, for in science the successors stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors; where one man of supreme genius has invented a method, a thousand lesser men can apply it.
-Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), British philosopher, mathematician. A Free Man’s Worship and Other Essays, ch. 3 (1976).

Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.
-Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist. “The Imagination of Disaster,” Against Interpretation (1966).

Attainment and science, retainment and art—the two couples keep to themselves, but when they do meet, nothing else in the world matters.
-Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. “Time and Ebb,” Nabokov’s Dozen (1958).

Art and science coincide insofar as both aim to improve the lives of men and women. The latter normally concerns itself with profit, the former with pleasure. In the coming age, art will fashion our entertainment out of new means of productivity in ways that will simultaneously enhance our profit and maximize our pleasure.
-Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956), German playwright, poet. On Theater, “Little Organon for the Theater,” (1949)

Science and art are only too often a superior kind of dope, possessing this advantage over booze and morphia: that they can be indulged in with a good conscience and with the conviction that, in the process of indulging, one is leading the “higher life.”
-Aldous Huxley (1894–1963), British author. Ends and Means, ch. 14 (1937).

Science is feasible when the variables are few and can be enumerated; when their combinations are distinct and clear. We are tending toward the condition of science and aspiring to do it. The artist works out his own formulas; the interest of science lies in the art of making science.
-Paul Valéry (1871–1945), French poet, essayist. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 14, “Analects,” ed. J. Matthews (1970). Moralités (1932).

We have lost the art of living; and in the most important science of all, the science of daily life, the science of behaviour, we are complete ignoramuses. We have psychology instead.
-D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence (1885–1930), British author. Etruscan Places, ch. 4 (1932).

The aim of science is to apprehend this purely intelligible world as a thing in itself, an object which is what it is independently of all thinking, and thus antithetical to the sensible world…. The world of thought is the universal, the timeless and spaceless, the absolutely necessary, whereas the world of sense is the contingent, the changing and moving appearance which somehow indicates or symbolizes it.
-R.G. (Robin George) Collingwood (1889–1943), British philosopher. “Outlines of a Philosophy of Art,” Essays in the Philosophy of Art, Indiana University Press.

The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the “disenchantment of the world.” Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental.
-Max Weber (1864–1920), German sociologist. repr. in Essays in Sociology, eds. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (1946). “Science as a Vocation,” (1919).

The worst state of affairs is when science begins to concern itself with art.
-Paul Klee (1879–1940), Swiss artist. The Diaries of Paul Klee 1898-1918, no. 747, Jan. 1906 entry (1957, trans. 1965).

19th Century

True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception to the region of emotion.
-Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. repr. In Tolstoy on Art, ed. Aylmer Maude (1924). What Is Art? Ch. 10 (1898).

The wealthy are always surrounded by hangers-on; science and art are as well.
-Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860–1904), Russian author, playwright. The professor in A Boring Story, Works, vol. 7, p. 276, “Nauka.”

Thinking is seeing…. Every human science is based on deduction, which is a slow process of seeing by which we work up from the effect to the cause; or, in a wider sense, all poetry like every work of art proceeds from a swift vision of things.
-Honoré De Balzac (1799–1850), French novelist. Also in Le livre mystique, Werdet (1835), and in the Comédie humaine (1845, trans. 1971). Louis Lambert, in Louis Lambert, chapter VI, Notice a sur L. L. in the Nouveaux contes philosophiques (1832).

18th Century

Nothing, it is true, is more common than for both Science and Art to pay homage to the spirit of the age, and for creative taste to accept the law of critical taste.
-Friedrich Von Schiller (1759–1805), German dramatist, poet, essayist. “Eighth Letter,” On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795).

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