Reutersvärd, Oscar (1915–2002)
Swedish artist who pioneered the creation and design of impossible
figures. His work in this area goes back to one day in 1934 when, as
a young student in Stockholm, he started doodling in the margins of a textbook
during a long lecture. Reutersvärd's doodle began with an outline of a perfect
sixpointed star. Once the star was complete he added cubes around the star,
nestled into the spaces between the points. He soon realized that what he'd
drawn was paradoxical: something that couldn't be built in the real world.
A different version of this figure, independently created by Roger Penrose,
would later be called the Penrose triangle.
Thus began a lifelong fascination with such objects, which later included
work on the impossible staircase (a design he sketched in 1950 while on
a crosscountry train ride), which is known as the Penrose
stairway, and the discovery of the tribar illusion. In the early 1980s
the Swedish government honored Reutersvärd's achievements by issuing
a set of three stamps depicting impossible figures, including a version
of his 1934 weird cubes design.
Related category
• MATHEMATICIANS
