Geometric art of Morton C. Bradley, Jr.
One of the perks of working in the acquisitions department of an academic library is that hundreds of new books pass through my hands every week. One of the downsides is that I’m working in the acquisitions department, and don’t have the luxury of actually perusing all those books that I process. Every now and again a book catches my eye and I can make a note to myself to look it up again when I have the time.
It is the nature of geometric art that as beautiful as it is, it is an art that seems to exist without the benefit of an artist. It is impersonal in this respect, a fact that Bradley himself acknowledged. He did not assume responsibility for their creation, merely their discovery.
But these are the creations of an incredibly keen mind.
I read about Bradley (as you can here) and learned that he acquired his training and his reputation in art restoration. He was a polymath, unsurprisingly, but his greatest fascination was color.
I was fascinated first by the complex yet harmonious geometry of these forms, but it is really the use of color that makes these sculptures so transcendent. These sculptures are really exercises in color theory in three dimensions. Bradley used geometry as a medium for his scientific exploration of color.
It may be that no one can claim to invent the dodecahedron or stellated icosahedron or or any geometric figure no matter how complex, since they are all manifestations of mathematics which exist outside of human activity; they just are.
But it was Bradley’s searching mind that synthesized color and form to create these unique images. These objects represent a look into the workings of a very particular and wonderful human mind.
Morton Bradley studied at Harvard and lived most of his life in Massachusetts but had family connections to Indiana and particularly Indiana University. He donated most of his personal collection of paintings as well as his own creative work to the IU Art Museum and it is this institution that published the beautiful book I mentioned at the top of this page, and which inspired me to look further into this amazing artist and scholar.