The Seduction of Curves: The Lines of Beauty that Connect Mathematics, Art, and the Nude
Allan McRobie; with photographs by Helena Weightman
Princeton University Press
Curves, according to Allan McRobie, reader in engineering at the University of Cambridge, are “seductive” and “speak to us on some deeply instinctual level”. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, they also have “a language, an alphabet, a lexicon” that distinguishes between cusps and folds, butterflies and swallowtails, wigwams and umbilics. To illustrate this little-known branch of mathematics, he draws on the art of David Hockney, Henry Moore and Salvador Dalí, as well as Helena Weightman’s superb photographs of mountains, mushrooms, reflections on water and naked bodies. Everything from the stability of oil rigs to the shape of our genitals turns out to be intimately related to curves.