Simplicity, Doubt, and Desire in the Visual Arts
Rachael DeLue, Princeton University
09:50-10:30 Wednesday April 3
[video]

This talk considers different forms of abstraction in the visual arts in order to develop an account of simplicity as an aesthetic criterion that both aligns with and unsettles conventional definitions of that term across disciplines, including mathematics. Indeed, by considering simplicity in art, where it operates on a visual register, alongside simplicity within mathematics, where the visual may be less important, the stakes of simplicity in both arenas emerge transformed. In art, for instance, simplicity or economy of means turns out to be at times blinding rather than enlightening, obfuscating rather than truth-giving, thus purposefully articulating failure rather than insight or knowledge gained. And in both art and mathematics, desire constitutes a driving force.

Close