In addition to being a world-renowned physicist, Richard Feynman was also an amateur artist, one who was fascinated by the power of lines and forms. He felt that his appreciation of art was deeply connected to his love of physics, representing an appreciation of the complexity and beauty of the world.

Brain Pickings has a great collection of Feynman's art, and cites this paragraph from his essay "But Is It Art?" which appears in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!:

I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world. It’s difficult to describe because it’s an emotion. It’s analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the universe: there’s a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run ‘behind the scenes’ by the same organization, the same physical laws. It’s an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of awe — of scientific awe — which I felt could be communicated through a drawing to someone who had also had that emotion. I could remind him, for a moment, of this feeling about the glories of the universe.


Feynman actually sold his pieces under the pseudonym "Ofey," hoping to avoid collectors who would buy his work based solely on his academic reputation. Sadly, The Art of Richard P. Feynman, a selection of Feynman's artwork curated by his daughter Michelle, is long out of print, but you can see more of Feynman's sketches and paintings at Brain Pickings.

The Art of Ofey: Richard Feynman’s Little-Known Sketches & Drawings [Brain Pickings]


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