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Episodes from an Unwritten History: Claude Bragdon & Fritz Trautmann

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The Atom

35 x 29 1/2 in. (88.9 x 74.9 cm)

Fritz Trautmann
United States (Whitewater, Wisconsin, 1882 - November 11, 1971, Rochester, New York )

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Bequest of Fannie Benjamin
Accession Number: 1960.55
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

The architect and designer, Claude Bragdon, introduced his friend Fritz Trautmann to magic squares, in which arranged numbers equal the same amount in the verticals, horizontals and long diagonals. In lines that follow the numbers of a magic square in their natural order (1, 2, 3…), Trautmann observed orbital patterns replicating natural forms. On March 4, 1912 Bragdon wrote in his diary, “Trautmann [has] discovered the spiral law of space.” From this, Trautmann developed his Principal of the Orbit, a philosophical explanation for creation, evolution, and existence:

“I am borne spinning along in the great whirlpool of evolution. It is because I am a child of nature that I am able to conceive only spinning and spiraling things – whirling worlds, universes of nebulae, stars, planets, satellites; universes of molecules, atoms, electrons, protons; universes of embryos, nuclei, chromosomes, genes. By reflection I rotate; my universe turns because I myself turn…my sphere of activity assumes an orbital motion because I am the spinning center of it.”

[Gallery label text, 2010]

Purchased from the Artist in 1960

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
FRITZ TRAUTMANN: TEACHING AND COLOR THEORY Excerpts from Fritz Trautmann’s writings on art, from the artist's notebooks housed in the Memorial Art Gallery Archives
Episodes from an Unwritten History: Claude Bragdon & Fritz Trautmann Brochure accompanying an exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery from August 13-December 12, 2010.

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