‘Fantastic Geometry: Polyhedra and the Artistic Imagination in the Renaissance’, by David Wade; The Squeeze Press; 2012
This, my most recent book, deals with a little-known, short-lived, tradition of imaginative geometry that flourished in 16th century Germany, during the Northern Renaissance. The key figure in this movement was the goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer, whose graphic fantasies were an imaginative response to the newly rediscovered geometrical theories associated with such important figures as Pythagoras, Plato, Archimedes and Euclid – all part of the great revival of interest in Classical knowledge that characterised the Renaissance. This brief flowering of geometric art, it seems to me, was so extraordinarily prescient - positively modern-looking in fact - and has received so little recognition, that it deserves to be better known.
Jamnitzer, who was a master artist-craftsman in his own right, presented his geometric fantasies in response to the theories of the Classical philosopher-mathematicians in a volume called ‘Perspectiva Corporum Regularium’, published in Nuremberg, in 1568. The immediate popularity of this extraordinary book led to a number of other artists/craftsmen following in his footsteps, and to produce geometrically-inspired graphic works of their own. Although never really amounting to a ‘school’, these productions clearly share Jamnitzer’s preoccupation with ‘Platonic’ forms, and still have a resonance today.
‘Fantastic Geometry’ provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the work of this group (with many illustrations), together with an account of the historical background and the sources of their inspiration.