Neil deGrasse Tyson – Art and Science

Art and science may seem to be mutually exclusive or conflicting fields, but as scientists and Park West Gallery artists show, they provide endless inspiration for one another.

Artists are driven to create something aesthetically pleasing or find a different way of approaching an idea or object. In a similar way, scientists approach the natural world with an expectation of discovering something, and are constantly examining the world around them. Whether in a lab or studio, both seek answers to questions such as “why does it matter?”


Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinking About Art

One proponent of this school of thought is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium. He visited Reddit with the post “I am Neil deGrasse Tyson. An Astrophysicist. But I think about Art often,” answering questions ranging from how art and science can support one another to what type of art inspires him. His office, for instance, has a print and pillow version of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

“I want an artist to show me something I might not have noticed about that natural beauty. I want an artist to layer an emotion on that natural beauty that I might not have seen myself, or even known to access,” he wrote.

Tyson spoke about the subject during an episode of his StarTalk show. He reflects on how science has come a long way in inspiring and influencing the public, from the works of Leonardo da Vinci to science itself becoming the subject of art.

“I was impressed by how often I was called by artists to get the latest image from the Hubble Telescope, or they wanted to find out about the latest understanding of the Big Bang or black holes or Mars so they can paint a scene,” he says.


Neil deGrasse Tyson Interviews Peter Max

Peter Max Neil Degrasse Tyson

Runner on Red Ver. I” (2008), Peter Max

To drive the point home, Tyson spoke with Park West artist Peter Max, who features cosmic themes and characters in many of his works. The pop artist says when he was 10 years old he learned about the stars and planets. Max was so amazed that he includes it in his art to this day.

“There is nothing that is nicer to be blown away by than the cosmos, the universe, these complete, unbelievable facts that exist,” Max tells Tyson. “The more you think about it, the more you dream about it, the more it starts making sense, and you still know that you are just this little, microscopic little thing in the universe thinking about all the bigness.”

The passion Max has for the cosmos is felt in his book, aptly titled, “The Universe of Peter Max,” which features a foreword written by Tyson.


Park West Artists Embracing Science

Other artists with Park West Gallery support this movement of science and art sharing the same sense of wonder. Park West artist David “Lebo” Le Batard says outer space is something he has been interested in for a long time, saying it parallels studies of the mind. He has created paintings that reference philosophy, satellites and science all at once.

“When we are studying outer space and the perceived limitations of it and the expansiveness of it, I think in the end there is a part of us that is in that and in our minds as well,” he says. “To me, that micro and macro perspective and where we lie, somewhere in between those two things, is definitely something that I never get tired of investigating.”

Neil degrasse Tyson Lebo art science

“We Came from Outer Space” (2014), Lebo.

Dominic Pangborn creates evolutionary, abstract art, some of which is themed after cosmic imagery. In fact, Pangborn belongs to the International Association of Astronomical Artists thanks to his interpretations of space.

“I am really more interested in creating, I’m not out to copy, I want to express it in my own way,” he says about his cosmic paintings. “I want to create that look, so it’s my own point of view.”

Space Dominic Pangborn Park West Gallery

Space” (2014), Dominic Pangborn

Like a scientist in the lab, Patrick Guyton constantly seeks new techniques with his gold and silver leafing art. He is always learning new ways to age, tarnish or oxygenate his metals, whether it’s with acids, salts or batteries.

“It really creates a lot of awesome effects,” he says. “It’s not so much that you get your canvas and you get your paints and you start making stuff – that’s all fun and well – but what has probably been the most interesting thing is experimenting with metal.”

Patrick Guyton Neil deGrasse Tyson art science

Arbre – Petite (Gold)” (2014), Patrick Guyton

Even Park West Gallery CEO Albert Scaglione shows how science and art can combine. Scaglione worked in his cousin’s art gallery as a teenager, gaining a passion for the art world. In college, however, he studied the sciences and obtained a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

He taught as a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, eventually working for NASA. When government funding for the program ended, he turned to his love of art and opened Park West Gallery. The combination of his fervor for art, attention to detail and work ethic helped create a gallery that has brought art to more than 1.8 million collectors worldwide.

“The defining moment was saying that this is my new career and I see blue skies and good things happening and then decided to walk away from my doctorate and 11 years in Academia,” he said in a Huffington Post interview. “I did it cold turkey, took a mortgage on my house and it worked!”

2 Responses to Neil deGrasse Tyson – Art and Science

  1. Tom Rausch says:

    The article gave me more insight into artists that I collect. Home run with this newsletter. Keep it up.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Britto Painting Makes Cruise Ship Wedding an Event to Remember

    There are wedding day stories where everything goes wrong—it rains, the groom is late, the cake topples over. This is NOT one of those stories.Instead, this is a story about ...
    Read More
  • Alexandre Renoir Brings “Beauty” to His New Monthaven Arts Exhibition

    As the great-grandson of famed artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alexandre Renoir knows a thing or two about beauty.An accomplished artist in his own right, Alexandre is bringing his wealth ...
    Read More
  • Behind the Artist: Nano Lopez

    Few contemporary artists have made more of an impact on the word of sculpture than Nano Lopez.His instantly recognizable “Nanimal” sculptures are collected around the globe, and he continues ...
    Read More
  • Why The Art of Dominic Pangborn Never Stops Evolving

      “Born in Korea, refined ...
    Read More
  • 5 Artists Talk About Itzchak Tarkay’s Influence on Their Work

    Itzchak Tarkay is world famous for his alluring, captivating compositions, but, within the art community, Tarkay is perhaps best known for being a generous mentor to his fellow artists.Throughout ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Nilesh Gurung

    Many Park West collectors develop lasting friendships with our art teams, underscoring our 49-year reputation of connecting people from all walks of life with artwork they love.Here’s a chance to ...
    Read More
  • Foster Youth Named on List of 100 Female Trailblazers

    Alexis Lenderman was intrigued to hear that Ananke Magazine, a women-focused digital magazine, created a list of the top 100 women from around the world making positive changes.As the ...
    Read More
  • The Enigmatic Women of Itzchak Tarkay Come Alive in This New Spring Collection

    Few artists understand beauty in the way that Itzchak Tarkay did. A legend in the figurative art movement, Tarkay’s works are instantly recognizable.A spiritual cousin to Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri ...
    Read More
  • A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Daniel Wall’s Artistic Process

    In magic, spectators become disenchanted in learning the secrets behind the illusions. When it comes to art, however, Daniel Wall believes the opposite is true.By sharing photos of his ...
    Read More
  • Art Cruises: Vacations Designed with Art Lovers in Mind

    Set sail for an extraordinary art adventure.All art tells a story. But the real story is behind the art. When you bring home a painting or sculpture from one of ...
    Read More
  • How Marc Chagall Came to Illustrate One of the Greatest Love Stories of...

    Bob Dylan once said that “passion is a young man’s game,” but over 60 years ago, at the age of 55, famed artist Marc Chagall illustrated one of the ...
    Read More
  • Why We Love Buying Art on Cruise Ships: Confessions of an Art Enthusiast...

    After entering their first cruise ship art auction, this couple has never looked back.Don and Tina Tritton almost missed the boat. While their ship was docked in Ketchikan during a ...
    Read More