This exhibition presents American architect Ben Nicholson’s search for order, meaning, and logic in a world of art, science, and mystery. The Laurentian Library in Florence, a masterwork by Michelangelo designed in 1524–25, contains fifteen pairs of terra cotta panels bearing complex geometric patterns that have been long hidden from view.

Nicholson studied the panels at the Laurentian Library intensely over a period of ten years. Mixing equal doses of archaeological fieldwork and archival detection with mathematical analysis, architectural investigation, and numerological study, he sought to understand the geometric patterns, their relationship to Michelangelo’s architectural intention, and a possible connection to the original ordering of the library’s books. The exhibition presents markers from the architect’s investigative journey, including floor rubbings, a plan of the Laurentian Library annotated by Ben Nicholson with the locations of its contents, and his log book, offering his view of the archaeological and scientific research. A collaboration with American painter Blake Summers resulted in a series of oil paintings that present the original panels in full scale.

Curator: Howard Shubert, CCA.


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