In contrast to other Shakespearean Equation paintings, which feature a single or a pair of mathematical models, Twelfth Night unites eight forms. Two additional “foreign” items—an ostrich egg and a phallic object—reference other Man Ray works. Like the love triangle and complex plot of the Shakespearean play evoked by the work’s title, this intricate gathering of many improbable objects suggests similarly complicated and overlapping relationships.
“Sugimoto’s sculptures in particular are a testimony of the intricate relationship between art and mathematics,” says Klaus Ottmann, curator of Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models. “Both art and mathematics deal with the unimaginable, the non-represent-able; in this case the notion of infinity.”
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.