The dictionary says Art can refer to 'skill in conducting any human activity', and it also has an archaic usage 'science, learning, or scholarship'. So can we call Mathematics a kind of art or is it appropriate to call it a kind of art nowadays?


In one sense, anything humans do skillfully is art (or artful).

However, art (or “the arts”) is often contrasted with science, with the general division based on whether correctness is subjective or objective. In this sense, math is definitely not an art (or artistic).

  • So art always refers to the human skills, and contrasts to the nature. Is that right? – Ether Lin Jul 25 '20 at 6:01

Mathematicians may wish to think of themselves as artists, bit in general we do not refer to it as an “art”. Math has proofs, eventually math can be proven to be correct or incorrect. As much as I think modern art is incorrect, and the Dutch Masters were correct, that is a matter of taste.


A search for "mathematics art or science" finds this interesting article:

The intrepid mathematician

My view is that mathematics is neither an art nor a science. A third path exists, nestled between the two, and intertwined with both. Mathematics is inherently different from other disciplines. While it is wildly creative, it is not art. While it can be used to model natural phenomena, it is not science. There are elements of both art and science in the field, but it isn’t a subset of either.

On the other hand, a search for "the art of mathematics" finds many books, so the question "Can we call mathematics a kind of art" must be answered yes, because many do call it that. It just isn't merely that. A painter can create any kind of imaginary world they want; a mathematician must create proofs that others have to agree with.

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    Jack, I disagree. Even the quote you provided states “Its is not an art”. Can someone apply the scientific laws of math to a new problem, i a way that is creative and therefore artistic? Of course and hopefully. But the discipline itself is not an art. – Patrick Jul 24 '20 at 6:51
  • Patrick, I didn't say it was an art. I said you can call it an art, and that is evident because many people do call it an art, and their books haven't been banned. I think you have misunderstood my post. – Jack O'Flaherty Jul 24 '20 at 12:25
  • Jack, apologies if I misread your post. Though, personally I do not agree that because some do call it an art we can call it an art. The point of this exchange is to be correct. The majority of the world and of the United States are less than well educated. By definition, half are below average intelligence. I grew up saying “dis” and “dat” and “wursh” rather than “this”, “that”, and “wash” because I grew up in a poor rural area. That does not make those things correct. Yes, I suppose we CAN say things that are not correct, but in this exchange I think “can” is taken as “it is acceptable”. – Patrick Jul 25 '20 at 3:55
  • Patrick, I suppose then that you take a more prescriptivist view of language. I don't. – Jack O'Flaherty Jul 25 '20 at 10:16
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    "The art of something" doesn't have the implication the something is an art. Definition from Lexico/Google: a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice. "the art of conversation". "The Art of War" does not make a claim that war is art or lead us to think that. Neither does Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. That said I don't think "You don't do math the same way you do art" is a sound argument either. I second your point on prescipritivism/descriptivism – Eddie Kal Aug 26 '20 at 19:44

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