Object Image

Honor Pythagoras, Per I--Per VI

Alfred Jensen strove to reveal the connections between art, science, and spirituality.

For him, the thousands of strokes of color that he applied across these six conjoined canvases expressed the unity of all things. The colored triangles represent prisms that break white light into brilliant hues, and the geometries and numbers underlie the basic order of the universe. Jensen was inspired by mathematics, but also by visual forms from around the world, including calendars and counting systems from Arabic, Mayan, and Chinese cultures.

The painting--one of the artist's largest--contains complex symbols and ideas, yet it operates very simply on another level: undiluted color, shape, and rhythm combine to create a harmony that appeals to the eye and the body as much as to the mind.

Credit: Gift of Hugh W. Downe and museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum

1964
Oil on canvas
213.4 x 762.0cm
2001.35A-F
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

Where you'll find this