One of the greatest surrealist artists, whose name almost everyone knows nowadays, the owner of the most gorgeous mustache and just the most interesting personality – all this, as you might have already guessed, is about Salvador Dali. Salvador Dali, Spanish artist of the 20th century, is remembered by the public for his technical skills, precise drawing and whimsical imagery in his work. And the last thing you think of when you think about this artist is that his art has references to mathematics. Mathematics and surrealism, how is this possible?
Few people know that at one time Dali corresponded with famous mathematicians and scientists. One of the most striking manifestations of mathematical influence was the painting Crucifixion, aka Corpus Hypercubus. The painting depicts Jesus levitating in front of a cross, although it appears to be made of cubes rather than flat planks. It is immediately clear that the cross depicted here is unusual. That is because this cross, made of cubes, is the so-called polyhedral net of a four-dimensional hypercube, also known as a tesseract. To help you wrap your head around it, observe that a flat cross can be made out of six squares which, when glued together form a surface of a usual three-dimensional cube. 

The story of Salvador Dali’s collaboration with Brown University mathematician Thomas Banchoff began on a not so good note. After the Washington Post published an article in which, without Dali’s permission, they posted his painting Crucifixion, Banchoff received a call. Dali, who called, invited the mathematician to a meeting and it seems that the only thing the scientist could think of at that moment was “a hoax or a lawsuit,” but nevertheless agreed. This meeting marked the beginning of a lifelong collaboration, as the two met until the artist’s death in 1998.
Salvador Dali and Thomas Banchoff discussed the nuances of four-dimensional geometry and other advanced mathematics that resonated in the work of one of the most popular and famous artists of the 20th century.

Victoria Khomenko | PNN

Well, now you know a little more about the work of Salvador Dali and you can tell this story to your parents or friends over dinner. Trust me, they will be amazed. Pump up your brain and enjoy your life!