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Picasso’s reflections on science and art on stage at the PCB

By 11 de March de 2008November 18th, 2020No Comments
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Picasso’s reflections on science and art on stage at the PCB

One night back in 1950, a group of friends attended a private party in a flat at Birkbeck College in London. The get-together, however, would have merited no more than a footnote, were it not for the fact that the gathering's host was the crystallographer John D. Bernal and one of the guests was Pablo Picasso. The two men's conversations and the drawings made by the artist during the evening can be experienced on 14 March at 5.00 pm in the Fèlix Serratosa Conference Room at the PCB. The event, which is free of charge, will offer up the men's reflections on life and the interconnections between scientific method and artistic inspiration.

Organized by the PCB’s Automated Crystallography Platform, the event will offer the reading of a play in original version, written by Celerino Abad-Zapatero, who is Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and a pioneer in the use of macromolecular crystallography techniques to design new medicines. The play is based on anecdotes surviving from the Birkbeck evening, and the warm reception that the play received from students at its UIC premiere in December 2007 has prompted the author, with the support of the International Union of Crystallography (), to bring the work to audiences in Europe too.

The drawings by Picasso projected during the performance represent the only mural made by the artist in England, and they had recently been purchased by . Similarly, the Advanced Photon Source (), one of most world’s most powerful synchrotrons, which centres roughly 40% of its research activity on the field of structural biology and macromolecular crystallography, is set this coming May to host a performance of the play as part of Users Week, an annual APS gathering featuring a wide variety of activities for its users.

John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) belonged to a group of scientists who were pioneers in the application of x-ray diffraction techniques on biological molecules, including luminaries like Francis Crick, Rosalind E. Franklin and Max Perutz. The work not only features Bernal and Picasso but also other renowned personalities from the world of science and especially from the field of crystallography. Among them are the mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, Sir William Lawrence Bragg and the already mentioned Rosalind E. Franklin. All of the characters are to be played by scientists who work at the PCB or have been invited for the occasion.