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Statistics has a much smaller exposure to art than mathematics. The modern era has lost the renaissance’s passion for knowledge as a whole, which was manifested in, for example, Piero della Francesca’s (1415-1492) studies of perspective. M.C. Escher (1898-1972) is a marginal case: fascinating to mathematicians yet — surely not coincidentally — egregiously sneered at by others.

Still, there are many notable examples of 20th century paintings inspired by mathematics and mathematicians, for example Salvador Dalí’s (1904-1989) 'The Swallow’s Tail' (right) from his series on catastrophe theory.

Salvador Dali, The Swallow’s Tail, oil on canvas, 1983, 73 × 92.2cms
Dali theatre and museum, FigueresAnd statistics and statisticians? Perhaps not glamorous enough to be immortalised thus. The closest it gets is probably 'Suprematist painting: Eight red rectangles' (left) by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935)

Two aspects of this painting are evident to any statistician: the subtle randomness of its composition and, yes, Malevich was in all probability a precursor of the boxplot.

Was this the inspiration for a splendid, unnamed mural (below) off Oxford Street in London?
We think so.

The untraceable artist(s) – possibly called London Fancy? – have shown how we can subvert academia and infiltrate the postmodern urban subconscious. Watch the marginal spaces near you for the coming efflorescence of situationist statistics.





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