Modern Mathematics – The Philosopher's Egg by Mario Merz.

Mario Merz's art is rooted in anthropology. His found inspiration for his artwork at the interface of nature and intellect.

Another source of inspiration was Leonardo Fibonacci, an Italian medieval mathematician and philosopher who discovered that with Arabic numerals it was possible to develop a sequence to calculate the shape of spirals. Merz used this purely mathematical construction to enhance natural and spiritual energy and then translate it into universally valid artistic models.
The artwork is a gift of the Zurich Art Association to the city’s Main Station.

The work.

The Fibonacci sequence published in Pisa in 1202 follows a very simple pattern: each numeral is equal to the sum of the two that precede it; the sequence can be expanded infinitely.
The red lines symbolise the life lines of the railway station: dynamism and mobility.
The animals represent the coming and going in the station and in the whole world.

Life and work of Mario Merz.

Mario Merz grew up in Turin, where he studied at the medical school. During World War II he joined Giustizia e Libertà, an anti-fascist group. This led to his arrest and a brief imprisonment in 1945. It was at this time that he turned his attention to art. He initially concentrated on oil painting, and from 1960 onwards started to create informal spiral images. But he soon turned away from informal art and began to seek metaphors for the relationship between nature and culture in everyday objects. The result was his famous neon objects, in which he juxtaposed strip lighting and neon writing with ordinary objects such as bottles and umbrellas.

From 1977 onwards he produced gestural, brightly coloured paintings that incorporated objects and Fibonacci numbers.

A self-taught artist, Mario Merz spent his entire working life in Turin, where he died in 2003.

Leonardo of Pisa, alias Fibonacci.

Leonardo of Pisa was born between 1170 and 1180. He was posthumously given the name Fibonacci, an abbreviation of Filius Bonacci, i.e. the son of Bonaccio. In the course of his travels as a merchant to Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence he studied all the methods of calculation known at the time. In modern mathematics his name is inextricably linked with the following sequence:
Taking a1 = 1 and a2 = 1, the sequence of the Fibonacci numbers is given by: a n+2 = a n+1 + a n
The Fibonacci numbers can also be given as: f n = f n-1 + f n-2
The number sequence is mentioned by Fibonacci in connection with the following famous "rabbit problem":
The question is the how many descendants will a pair of rabbits have after one year; we know it is a lot. The following assumptions are made:

  • Each pair of rabbits reaches sexual maturity after two months.
  • From then onwards each pair of rabbits produces a new pair of rabbits each month.
  • Rabbits never die.

If an is the number of rabbit pairs alive in the nth month, the number can be calculated using the Fibonnaci sequence.

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