Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. No re-opening date is available at this time. Check our website and social media for updates.

Painting - Division of the Square by Conic Rectangles

Painting - Division of the Square by Conic Rectangles

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This painting shows three rectangles of equal area, one in shades of blue, one in shades of purple, and one in shades of pink. The height of the middle rectangle equals the height of the first rectangle less its own width, while the height of the third rectangle equals the height of the first triangle less the width of the first triangle. Crockett Johnson associated these properties with conic curves. The construction is that of the artist. The coloring was suggested by a recently discovered French cave painting. The narrow rectangle on the left side and the dark, thin triangle at the base were also added to correspond to the cave painting.
The oil painting on masonite is #60 in the series. It is signed: CJ70, and inscribed on the back: DIVISION OF THE SQUARE BY CONIC RECTANGLES (/) (GNOMON ADDED AT THE SUGGESTION OF A CRO-MAGNON (/) ARTIST OF LASCAUX (/) Crockett Johnson 1970. The painting is in a black wooden frame. For related documentation see 1979.3083.02.05.
Reference: Crockett Johnson, "On the Mathematics of Geometry in My Abstract Paintings," Leonardo 5 (1972): pp. 98–101.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Johnson, Crockett
Physical Description
masonite (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 64 cm x 64 cm x 5 cm; 25 3/16 in x 25 3/16 in x 1 15/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Ruth Krauss in memory of Crockett Johnson
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Crockett Johnson
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object