Feynman as an Artist

Feynman was an Artist. The American Institute of Physics was kind enough to dedicate its February (1989) issue of Physics Today to Richard Feynman, one year after Feynman left us in 1988. This issue contains nine artworks painted by Feynman on pages 86 and 87. The copyright law does not allow us to establish a link to those pages, but you can reach them from your online library. This unfriendly law is not applicable to book or journal covers.

You may go to the webpage

for a more extensive collection of Feynman's paintings. We thank Elena Georgieva for bringing this valuable page to our attention.

From all those paintings, we can clearly see Feynman was a talented artist, but we should be able to say more than that.

The Physics Today pictures were chosen by Michelle Feynman, Feynman's daughter, and their captions are quotations from Feynman's writings. From those figures and captions, we can gather easily that Feynman was a physicist and was addressing the issue of "resonance" in transmitting abstract concept. Each individual has different emotions. Feynman puts his own emotions to his pictures. He believes those with the same set of emotions can appreciate his paintings.

Indeed, this concept of two ribs came from one of my research efforts on Feynman's rest of the universe. In his 1972 book on statistical mechanics, Feynman talks about the world in which we do physics, and the rest of universe not seen to us. He then uses one harmonic oscillator to illustrate his idea. How can you describe two different worlds with one oscillator? I had to use two oscillators to illustrate fully what he had in mind. You may click here for this interesting physics story.

What was Feynman's Real Job? Physics!

Based on what we know about him, we can safely assume that Feynman was insisting on his own creativity in what he was drawing. Creativity should be accompanied by continuity, since otherwise it cannot survive in history. Click here for more stories.

Don't Forget. Feynman was a Physicist. He was a creative physicist. Here also Feynman's creativity was always accompanied by continuity. His Feynman diagrams respect all known principles of relativity and quantum mechanics.

While he was learning art from artists, Feynman was interested in telling them what physics is. If you are a physicist, you will even be more interested in what Feynman was saying about Physics.

According to Feynman,
The artists of the Renaissance said man's main concern should be for men, and yet there are other things of interest in the world.Even the artists appreciate sunsets, and the ocean waves, and the march of the stars across the heavens. There is then some reason to talk of other things sometimes. As we look into these things we get an aesthetic pleasure from them directly on observation. There is also a rhythms and a pattern between the phenomena of nature which is not apparent to the eye, but only to the eye of analysis; and it is these rhythms and patterns which we call Physical Laws.

I picked up a transparency containing this paragraph from a waste basket. If you know the exact reference, please let me know at yskim@ysfine.com.

According to Feynman, abstract ideas are generated from our observation of visible and audible objects in this world. Let us concentrate on visual effects in this website. We can talk about audible effects later. Physicists like music.

First, let us see how abstract concepts can be formulated from visible objects. Thanks to internet technologies, we can collect many photographs into one webpage, and you can see them all. From these photos, it may be possible to derive abstract concepts.

Sergei Eisenstein was a creative Soviet-era film producer. We would normally think movies are produced from written books, such as "Gone with the Wind" from Margaret Mitchel's book. Eisenstein had a different idea. Take pictures first. Then construct stories from those pictures. Indeed, using webapages, we can construct abstract concepts and study what Feynman had in mind. According to Feynman and Eisenstein, I should be able to show you something abstract from a set of photos from my collection.

This webpage is still in preparation. Please come again!

Y.S.Kim (yskim@ysfine.com)