“Kepler’s Elements” (2020)
by Gerhard (1959-)
5 x 16 in, ink on board
This is an interpretation of Kepler’s elements, from 1619, as imagined from the fertile and creative hand and mind of Gerhard. I am using Kepler’s drawings in a textbook (they are public domain, after all), and I decided I would commission Ger and give him free reign to come up with a modern interpretation. The guy just winds up and knocks it over the far wall every time. A copy of Kepler’s drawings is included as an additional image.
Johannes Kepler, in the “Harmonices Mundi” (The Harmony of the World; 1619), discusses the harmony and congruence in geometrical forms and physical phenomena. An extrapolation of Platonic philosophy, Kepler created some of the most iconic drawings in the history of chemistry, integrating contemporary ideas about the five basic elements into the properties of the five basic physical forms of the Platonic solids. The pointy tetrahedron represents the sharpness of fire, and so also then the particles of fire are tetrahedral. The easily packed cubic form contains the properties of the earths (solids). The octahedral form is associated with air (gasses), and the highly mobile icosahedron with water (liquids). The 12-sided and spherical dodecahedron is associated with the aether of the heavens, one side (clearly) for each sign of the zodiac with the blazing sun in the center (Kepler is credited as being one of the first prominent astronomers who embraced fully the Copernican, heliocentric model of the universe).