Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc

By Arthur I. Miller | Go to book overview

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TWO WORLDS AS ONE

Everything is possible, everything is realizable, in all and everywhere.

—André Salmon

Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, exemplars of genius, inspiration for generations of artists and scientists, are icons of the twentieth century. Modern science is Einstein and modern art, Picasso. How this came about is one of the great sagas in the history of Western thought.

While it is a truism that one can always find amazing coincidences between any two people, in the case of Einstein and Picasso the similarities in their personal lives, working lives and creativity are uncanny and documentable. The parallels between the two during their period of greatest creativity—the first decade and a half of the twentieth century— show us much more than the common points of their own thinking. They also offer glimpses into the nature of artistic and scientific creativity and of how research was carried out at the common frontier of art and science.

In those exhilarating days at the beginning of the last century, when everything seemed possible and realizable everywhere, Einstein and Picasso made no distinction between their personal and working lives. From a single cauldron emerged ideas that set into motion everything we call modern. I am more interested in why Einstein and Picasso made their discoveries than in how they went about developing insights. The psychologist of art Rudolf Arnheim has written: "How then are we to dis

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