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Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque Paperback – December 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0226327846 ISBN-10: 0226327841 Edition: First Edition (US) First Printing
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In Architecture and Geometry in the Age of the Baroque, George L. Hersey examines the era's scientific, musical and architectural lore of number, shape and proportion.... A beguiling book." - Kerry Downes, Times Literary Supplement "Learned and lucidly written.... Hersey demonstrates how, through geometry, architecture translated abstract ideas into visual, haptic forms. In chapters on music, optics, the cube, symmetry, circles and ovals, spirals and epicycles, Hersey explicitly shows the cross-fertilisation of science and art that scholars have hitherto assumed but never demonstrated." - Art Newspaper

From the Inside Flap

The age of the Baroque—a time when great strides were made in science and mathematics—witnessed the construction of some of the world's most magnificent buildings. What did the work of great architects such as Bernini, Blondel, Guarini, and Wren have to do with Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, Desargues, and Newton? Here, George Hersey explores the ways in which Baroque architecture, with its dramatic shapes and playful experimentation with classical forms, reflects the scientific thinking of the time. He introduces us to a concept of geometry that encompassed much more than the science we know today, one that included geometrics (number and shape games), as well as the art of geomancy, or magic and prophecy using shapes and numbers.

Hersey first concentrates on specific problems in geometry and architectural design. He then explores the affinities between musical chords and several types of architectural form. He turns to advances in optics, such as artificial lenses and magic lanterns, to show how architects incorporated light, a heavenly emanation, into their impressive domes. With ample illustrations and lucid, witty language, Hersey shows how abstract ideas were transformed into visual, tactile form—the epicycles of the cosmos, the sexual mystique surrounding the cube, and the imperfections of heavenly bodies. Some two centuries later, he finds that the geometric principles of the Baroque resonate, often unexpectedly, in the work of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. A discussion of these surprising links to the past rounds out this brilliant reexamination of some of the long-forgotten beliefs and practices that helped produce some of Europe's greatest masterpieces.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226327841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226327846
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,115,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Name Here on January 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me say first off that George Hersey is obviously an expert in his field and writes very well. The problem for me is that he is comfortable enough with his subject that his observations run to the "poetic". While this is a good thing for readers equally knowledgeable in the disciplines that he traverses while writing this book it was not good for me.

To aid anyone interested in this book let me say I am a male in my 60's
with an MFA in the fine arts. Although I read prodigiously I am virtually untrained in music theory, and I left off my math studies after advance algebra. So, although I continue to work at expanding my education in these two subjects, and am retaining Hersey's book with the hopes of returning to it periodically as I come up to the line on these studies, it
is beyond me right now...at least for it to be appreciated at the deserved depth.

I believe that anyone with some experience with the history of architecture, projective geometry, and music theory will find this book a treasure trove of aesthetic enjoyment and information. Such a person will also have fun contemplating some of the new and original interpretations that Hersey injects into the material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debby L. Slatten on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
for my husband - he loved it. He does architectural design and his current project is all baroque designs... Thanks.
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By Maria Coutinho on June 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic if we are thinking, only, about Architecture and Geometry. But, sometimes Geometry has been a language to express Ideas and to create Ideograms. And this is missing in the book: how ancient geometrical shapes (meaningful forms) became architectural forms. Perhaps one day that will happen: there will be a book explaining how geometry designed - as Grammar defining the correctness of a text - architectural details and ornaments.
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