Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations: Merry Wives of Windsor

Man Ray explained that the mathematical model of an elliptical function in this Shakespearean Equation reminded him of “the group of merry wives of Windsor getting together to gossip and laugh.” A former Phillips intern remarked that the artist’s dash of color in his interpretation of this mathematical model really does make it merrier.

Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations: Julius Caesar

“In painting [the models],” Man Ray explained, “I did not copy them literally but composed a picture in each case, varying the proportions, adding color, ignoring the mathematical intent, and introducing an irrelevant form sometimes, as a butterfly or the leg of a table.”

Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations: King Lear

Man Ray placed the painted canvas of King Lear onto a wooden hoop, turning the work into a three-dimensional object and referencing the recurring motif in his work of “squaring the circle.” In rendering this mathematical model on canvas, Man Ray removed the supports integral to the original object (seen in the image above right), leaving the model afloat in an ambiguous space.