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Einstein, Picasso.

Arthur I. Miller. Einstein, Picasso. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

In Einstein, Picasso, Arthur I. Miller tackles the question, "How did Einstein and Picasso in the early years of the twentieth century come to do the creative thinking that changed society's world view?" His answer, in brief, is it was the willingness of both men to grapple with the full consequences of the newest ideas of space, time, and dimension, when others who had come before them cautiously hung back.

Miller, a science historian who has gained some acclaim for an earlier work Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity: Emergence (1905) and Early Interpretation (1905-1911), obviously knows quite a bit about mathematical theory. In Einstein, Picasso, he also clearly demonstrates a powerful mastery of Picasso studies. His double expertise in art and science along with a lucid writing style makes Einstein, Picasso a particularly entertaining and informative read.

Miller reveals the humanity and intellectuality of Einstein and Picasso through alternating chapters that juxtapose the most comparable stages in their development and suggest conclusions about the creative process. In these chapters we learn that both men were powerful personalities addicted to intellectual work and emotional solitude; both attracted women and used and betrayed them; both were political anarchists when they began their careers; both were ignored or disparaged by the establishment whose disdain they similarly returned; and both lived in squalid circumstances whose nadir was reached just before their monumental discoveries.

Miller selected Einstein and Picasso as subjects because he believes they exemplify the twentieth century as an "era of genius unmatched since the Renaissance." One wonders what the century would have been like without the contributions of these two towering intellects.
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Author:Levinson, Martin H.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2002
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