GAMBIER — Famed physicist Charles M. Falco will address at Kenyon College the controversy he triggered by arguing that the great painters in Western art in the 15th century used optical devices to help create their work.
Falco, professor of optical sciences and professor of physics at the University of Arizona, will discuss “The Science of Optics: The History of Art” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Foundation Theater in the Gund Gallery, 101 1/2 College Drive. The event is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.
Collaborating with artist David Hockney, Falco discovered evidence showing that artists starting around 1420 achieved the startling realism in their paintings with the help of curved mirrors and other optical aids. Falco will show a “wealth of evidence” to support the discovery that artists used the devices about 200 years before previously thought, he said in a statement. Other physicists and art historians have challenged the findings, which have led to a BBC documentary and two international conferences. Falco will also discuss “Imaging in the Infrared (and Ultraviolet)” at a physics colloquium at Kenyon on Monday at 3:10 p.m. in Hayes Hall 109, 201 N. College Road. That event is also free and open to the public.
Falco’s principal research involves the study of thin film materials, including work on magnetism, superconductivity, X-ray and infrared optics, elastic properties, and computerized image analysis. He was also the co-curator of the industrial-design exhibition “The Art of the Motorcycle” at Guggenheim Museums in New York, Las Vegas and Bilbao, Spain.
His visit to Kenyon is part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.
Published on April 7, 2012