February Fourier Talks 2019

Judy Green

Marymount University


Crockett Johnson: From Cartoons in Black and White to Theorems in Color


After studying art, Crockett Johnson (1906-1975) started his career as a creator of political cartoons in 1934. He then turned to comic strips and later wrote and illustrated children books, including the very popular Harold and the Purple Crayon. This talk will describe why someone with no training at all in mathematics spent the last 10 years of his life producing more than 100 mathematical paintings, 80 of which are in the mathematics collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Paintings from this collection, many of which were displayed in a 1980 exhibit, Theorems in Color: Thirty-Two Paintings by Crockett Johnson, will be used to illustrate his trip from painting geometrical diagrams that he found in books to creating paintings that illustrate his own mathematical insights.

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