The Art and Science of 1.61803398875…

by Neal Blacker and John Dietrich

People occasionally ask why Studio Education has decided to employ a focus on STEAM, as opposed to STEM. Whatever could that errant A represent, people wonder.  Art, of course.  And such an answer is of course followed with a question of some sort, related to the apparent lack of connection between Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Art.  

Perhaps the reason why the inclusion of that A leaves people somewhat befuddled is the simple fact that the Sciences and the Arts are often, for a variety of reasons, viewed as diametrically opposed. Such an idea is supported through common societal constructs, with the concept of left-brained versus right-brained people being just one example.

At Studio, where a comprehensive approach to education is always stressed, we believe that there are clear and obvious connections though.

Interestingly, we are not the first to see the strong connections between the Arts and the Sciences. The Renaissance scholars and inventors of Europe were often involved in both the arts and sciences, and through such a comprehensive worldview often utilised one concept or theory in one discipline in order to address problems or questions in another field. And perhaps the best example of this is a very special number known as the Golden Ratio, and its employment across fields of knowledge. 

Take for example, the visual arts, where expressing concepts of balance, beauty and harmony often employed “the golden ratio” just as it was applied by the same polymaths when studying nature, mathematics, architecture and science.

What is the Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is commonly presented as a large rectangle, and formed within the large rectangle are a square and another rectangle. The ratio created then, between the perpendicular sides of the figure, is 1 : 1.618…  

The most distinctive feature about this is that the sequence can be repeated infinitely as a faultless form. If the square on the right hand side is removed or placed elsewhere, the golden ratio remains and can be applied elsewhere.

The Golden Ratio in Art 

The use of the golden ratio in the visual arts can be seen in the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and even modernist artists such as George Seurat and Salvador Dali.

In the Mona Lisa, above, Da Vinci employed the Golden Ratio to express the beauty of Lisa del Giocondo and create balance within the composition. Even modernist artists such as George Seurat and Salvador Dali employed the ratio (in the form of a spiral) as well, as seen below in Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper.

With the use of the Golden Ratio spanning over 450 years between Da Vinci and Dali, one is left wondering what inspired the two masters. Perhaps the answer is nature.

The Golden Ratio in Science 

The Golden Ratio is present throughout science and the natural world, in essence acting as the Natural Ratio. Take the nautilus as an example.

The shell of the cephalopod naturally forms over time. As the nautilus grows, it’s body adds chambers to the shell with the growing spiral being guided by the Golden Ratio. The fact that its biological formation is guided by the same ratio that artistically guided Da Vinci and Dali is astounding. In fact though, the use of the ratio extends even further into modern advertising and marketing.

The Modern Confluence

Just as Studio Education considers the connections between Art and Science to be integral, so too does the world’s largest company. Even Apple has made use of the biologically present and visually appealing number.  

Apple’s logo is ubiquitous and known all over the world. But what makes the logo so memorable and so pleasing to the eye?  The Golden Ratio of course. 

As shown above, the appeal and balance inherent in that most popular of fruit-inspired logos may very well derive itself from the number 1.618… 

So perhaps artists and designers do not have some magical touch when it comes to creating appeal. Instead, they may have an innate “eye” for using the golden ratio when constructing their compositions.

Ultimately, the golden ratio is just one concept that connects Art and Science. Here at Studio, we are constantly working to reveal more through innovative Studio Academy of Liberal Arts (SALA) courses such as Art History and Theory (Online) or Scientific Explorations (In-Person). To learn more about these exciting learning opportunities, and many others, visit

To receive notifications of new blog posts, please follow us.