Bradley sculptures bring beauty of mathematics to IU campus

Perhaps you’ve seen them in the Kelley School of Business, the Wells Library or the Maurer School of Law Library?

Intricately structured yet fancifully unique, Morton C. Bradley’s geometric sculptures float through the air looking not unlike brightly colored planets circling one another. The complex shapes are meant to embody the mathematical structure of nature and the beauty of pure mathematics.

One of Bradley’s amazing sculptures.

Even someone who barely made it through college algebra can see the beauty in a sculpture shaped like an icosidodecahedron — whether we can understand it (or pronounce it!) or not.

And as a soon-to-be IU alum, I can definitely appreciate the story of how these distinctive sculptures came to the Bloomington campus. Bradley, who died in 2004, bequeathed about 300 studies and completed sculptures to the university. Bradley’s family had deep ties to IU — his great-grandfather owned Wylie House, and his father met his mother while studying here.

For those who’d like to know more about his body of work, IU Press just published “Color and Form: The Geometric Sculptures of Morton C. Bradley Jr.

In the illustrated book, author Lynn Gamwell explores the Harvard University milieu that gave rise to Bradley’s artistic vision in the 1930s, his work as a painting conservator at the Fogg Museum, his study of music and mathematical patterning, and his founding of a workshop that fabricated these intricate handmade pieces that integrate pure color and form.

Gamwell teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York and is director emeritus of the Art Museum at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and a former curator of the Gallery of Art and Science at the New York Academy of Sciences.

“Color and Form” is published in association with the IU Art Museum, which hosts a beautiful online slideshow of Bradley’s sculptures.

Tags: , ,