Interdisciplinary Approach to Combine Science and Art: Understanding of the Paintings of René Magritte from the Viewpoint of Quantum Mechanics

  • Hunkoog JhoEmail author


In the twentieth century, science and art had a grand paradigmatic shift each other. This study aims at comparing the epistemologies of surrealism and quantum mechanics that emerged in the 1930s and interpreting the paintings from a physical viewpoint, with a focus on the Copenhagen interpretation. In terms of epistemologies, the arbitrary relationship between an object and an image advocated by Magritte may correspond to the indeterminacy between physical entities and measurement. This study analysed the paintings of Magritte from the point of view of the features of the Copenhagen interpretation categories of wave–particle duality, indeterminacy, probabilistic interpretation and quantum hypothesis. Based on such discussions, this study gives some implications for enhancing creativity through an interdisciplinary approach.


Copenhagen interpretation Interdisciplinary approach Quantum mechanics René Magritte Surrealism 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean Government (MSIT) (No. NRF-2017R1C1B1007561).


  1. Allday, J. (2009). Quantum reality: Theory and philosophy. New York: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auletta, G. (2001). Foundations interpretation of quantum mechanics. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  3. Babette, B., & Saslow, J. M. (2013). A companion to Renaissance to Baroque art. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Bohr, N. (1958). Atomic physics and human knowledge. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  5. Camilleri, K. (2009). A history of entanglement: Decoherence and the interpretation problem. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 40(4), 290–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chipp, H. B. (1996). Theories of modern art: A source book by artists and critics. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Choi, J.-M. (2004). (The) virtuality of Rene Magritte’s depaysement. Seoul, Korea: Hongik University.Google Scholar
  8. Cramer, J. G. (2016). The quantum handshake: Entanglement, nonlocality and transactions. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Criminisi, A., Kemp, M., & Kang, S. B. (2004). Reflections of reality in Jan van Eyck and Robert Campin. Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 37(3), 109–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Alessandro, S., Draguet, M., & Goormans, C. (2013). Magritte: the mystery of the ordinary, 1926–1938. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.Google Scholar
  11. Ferguson, K. (2002). Tycho and Kepler: The unlikely partnership that forever changed our understanding of the heavens. New York: Walker & Company.Google Scholar
  12. Gablik, S. (1985). Magritte. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  13. Gohr, S. (2009). Magritte: Attempting the impossible. New York: Distributed Art Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Gombrich, E. H. (2006). The story of art. New York: Phaidon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Griffiths, D. J. (2013). Revolutions in twentieth-century physics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Guilemin, R. (2010). Similarities and contrasts in the creative processes of the science and the arts. Leonardo, 43(1), 59–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hartmann, N. (2014). Aesthetics. New York: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  18. Heisenberg, W. (1927). Über den anschaulichen inhalt der quantentheoretischen kinematik und mechanik. Zeitschrift für Physik, 43(3–4), 172–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heisenberg, W. (1949). The physical principles of the quantum theory (C. Eckart & F. C. Hoyt, Trans.). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  20. Heisenberg, W. (1955). The development of the interpretation of quantum theory. In W. Pauli, L. Rosenfeld, & V. Weisskopf (Eds.), Niels Bohr and the development of physics. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  21. Høffding, H. (1905). The problems of philosophy. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Høffding, H. (1955). A history of modern philosophy: A sketch of the history of philosophy from the close of the Renaissance to our own day (B. E. Meyer, Trans.). New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Houston, K. (2012). Introduction to art criticism: Histories, strategies, voices. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  24. Hughes, R. (2008). Magritte (N. Park, Trans.). Seoul: Maronie Books.Google Scholar
  25. James, W. (1950). The principles of psychology. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  26. Jammer, M. (1989). The conceptual development of quantum mechanics. Los Angeles, CA: Tomash Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Jho, H. (2014). Implications of science education as interdisciplinary education through the cases of scientists and artists in the modern era: Focus on the relationship between science and the arts. Journal of the Korean Association for Science Education, 34(8), 755–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kang, O.-M. (2007). (A) study on depaysement techniques of Rene Magritte’s work. Seoul: Hongik University.Google Scholar
  29. Kemp, M. (1990). The science of art: Optical themes in western art from Brunelleschi to Seurat. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Longair, M. (2006). Revolutions in music and physics, 1900–30. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 31(3), 275–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lopes, D. (1996). Understanding pictures. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lützen, J. (2007). The geometry of an art: The history of the mathematical theory of perspective from Alberti to Monge. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. Massey, L. (2003). The treatise on perspective: Published and unpublished. Washington, D.C.: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  34. McAllister, J. W. (1996). Beauty & revolution in science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Miller, A. I. (1995). Aesthetics, representation and creativity in art and science. Leonardo, 28(3), 185–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, A. I. (1996). Insights of genius: Imagery and creativity in science and art. New York: Copernicus.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Murdoch, D. (1990). Niels Bohr’s philosophy of physics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Park, J.-J. (2011). Magritte and simulacre. Seoul: Giparang Pub.Google Scholar
  39. Pauli, W. (Ed.). (1994). Writings on physics and philosophy. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  40. Plotnitsky, A. (2006). Reading Bohr: Physics and philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Plotnitsky, A. (2016). The principles of quantum theory, from Planck’s quanta to the Higgs boson: The nature of quantum reality and the spirit of Copenhagen. Switzerland: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rooney, K., & Plattner, E. (Eds.). (2016). René Magritte: Selected writings. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  43. Root-Bernstein, R. S. (1999). Sparks of genius: The thirteen thinking tools of the world’s most creative people. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  44. Schmitt, C. B. (1981). Studies in Renaissance philosophy and science. London: Variorum Reprints.Google Scholar
  45. Schrödinger, E. (1926a). Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem. Annalen der Physik, 384(6), 489–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schrödinger, E. (1926b). Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem. Annalen der Physik, 384(4), 361–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schrödinger, E. (1926c). Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem. Annalen der Physik, 386(18), 109–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schrödinger, E. (1926d). Über das Verhältnis der Heisenberg-Born-Jordanschen Quantenmechanik zu der meinem. Annalen der Physik, 384(8), 734–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shapin, S. (1994). A social history of truth: Civility and science in the seventeenth-century England. London: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shirley, J. W., & Hoeniger, D. (1985). Science and the arts in the Renaissance. Washington, DC: Folger Shakesphere Library.Google Scholar
  51. Sim, M.-S. (2004). The educational implication of Kierkegaard’s existential single individual. The Korea Educational Review, 10(2), 5–35.Google Scholar
  52. Snow, C. P. (1998). Two cultures. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Stonlitz, J. (1960). Aesthetics and philosophy of art criticism: A critical introduction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  54. van der Veen, J. (2012). Draw your physics homework? Art as a path to understanding in physics teaching. American Educational Research Journal, 49(2), 356–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vitz, P. C., & Glimcher, A. B. (1984). Modern art and modern science: The parallel analysis of vision. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  56. Wear, D., & Zarconi, J. (2011). The treachery of images: How René Magritte informs medical education. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(4), 437–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Weisberg, R. W. (2006). Creativity: Understanding innovation in problem solving, science, invention, and the arts. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  58. Wittgenstein, L. (1978). Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). London: Basil Blackwell & Mott.Google Scholar
  59. Zucker, M. (2013). Iconography in Renaissance and Baroque art. In B. Bohn & J. M. Saslow (Eds.), A companion to Renaissance and Baroque art (pp. 359–380). Oxford: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General EducationDankook UniversityCheonanKorea

Personalised recommendations