The Pitfalls of Measurement
John Chervinsky
Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School
Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School
Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School

Edward O. Wilson wrote in 1978 in his book On Human Nature: "The United States, technologically and scientifically the most sophisticated nation in history, is also the second most religious - after India." Indeed, we live in an age where, according to a 2005 CBS news survey, over half of Americans do not believe in the theory of evolution, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and that it has withstood reasoned scrutiny for almost 150 years. Does faith come at a price? What is that price exactly? Can scientific humanism lift us out of our quagmire? Should it? Is it in fact the great irony of our condition that the very knowledge that sets us free from the tyranny of the dark ages, is also at the very root of the fear that causes us to drop to our knees to pray?

Conflicts between reason and belief are not new but never have they been held in such dramatic contrast as they have in the genomic age. The situation provides fertile ground for the artist and it is why I pursue the project with such urgency.

The entry point into my work is the idea of optical illusion as metaphor. I produce a different type of conceptual still life - one done in the manner of a science demonstration or imaginary physics experiment. To accomplish, I point a view camera toward the horizon point of two right-angle chalkboards. Markings with chalk are drawn in perspective (like anamorphic illusions) such that, from the point of view of the camera, they appear to be floating in space or on the surface of the photograph. The chalk markings are juxtaposed with real objects to create tensions between the real and the imaginary. The images are conceived to symbolically form a framework for open-ended narratives that ask questions rather than provide answers. It is hoped that viewers can bring their own history, reason and belief toward their interpretation.
-John Chervinsky


About the collection

Gerald Schwartz believes the presence of provocative art promotes creative thinking, remembering that "artistic presence was the only thing missing at HBS when I went there. I wanted to change that." In 1995, Gerry Schwartz and a team from HBS together began purchasing contemporary art for the HBS buildings most frequented by students. Inspired by the growing collection, a small group of MBA students founded the HBS Art Appreciation Society in 2001. It quickly grew into one of the largest student clubs on campus, sponsoring events in Boston area galleries and museums, as well as an annual weekend in Manhattan to meet artists, tour exhibitions, and attend theater. The club's co-presidents accompany Mr. Schwartz on his annual buying trip to purchase additional art for the School's collection.

About Gerald Schwartz, MBA '70

Gerald Schwartz, MBA ’70, is the Founder and CEO of Onex Corporation. He has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Gerry Schwartz is Vice Chairman and member of the Executive Committee of Mount Sinai Hospital, a director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, a trustee of The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Chairman of its Canadian Friends, and a governor of Junior Achievement of Metro Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Manitoba, a Masters in Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School, and several Doctor of Laws (Hon.) degrees. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music.