Richard Long at Sperone Westwater

Richard Long has along career of creating art about nature based on his walks through different landscapes. I saw more recent work last week at Sperone Westwater.

One double height wall in the gallery features a sight-specific giant circular drawing created by the artist by hand, by applying red mud directly to the wall.
This gallery room is taller than it is wide, so the viewer must look up to see the entire circle. This creates an interesting optical element. Although the circle has a consistent width it appears to be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top. It is a perfect expression of how geometric appearance can change based on the location of the form and the viewer in space.
Richard Long’s artistic practice also includes text based work. The visual poem “Mendosa Walking”  incorporates an interesting use of counting and mirror symmetry. The 12-line text has a center column using the two letter word “TO” to join the a word on each side. the number of letters in these words increases by one letter going down the rows. From “A”  “TO” “B” at the top all the way down to “HAPPENSTANCE” “TO”  “CONSEQUENCES”.

Susan Happersett

McArthur Binion at Galerie Lelong

McArthur Binion has an esteemed history working in the realm of abstract art. The exhibition “Re:Mind” at Galerie Lelong features his new work. The artist uses copies of personal documentation, birth certificate, address books, and cuts them down into equal length strips. He mines the textual information from his past. He arranges the strips into vertical and horizontal patterns to create alternating squares within a grid. This becomes the underlying surface over which Binion applies layers of paint stick strokes.


“dna: sketch: XI”, 2015 oil stick and paper on board



close up of “dna: sketch: XI”, 2015

In the work “dna: sketch: XI” Binion has included geometric elements beyond the use of vertical and horizontal parallel lines. There is an angled rectangular figure.  He has divided the work in half along the vertical center line. The left half of the painting has a darker toned back ground and the rectangle is lighter. On the right side of the painting this is reversed. This use of light and dark splits the rectangles into two trapezoids giving the work another mathematical element with order 2 rotational symmetry.


“DNA: Black Painting: VI”, 2015, Oil paint stick,graphite, and paper on board

“DNA: Black: VI” also features two trapezoids rotated 180 degree,s but this time they are each centered on their own side of the canvas, with clearer definitions of fore ground and back ground.

McArthur Binion has taken the tenets of 20th century abstract (especially Minimalist) painting and broadened the theme of his work through the use of an underlying grid of personal history.

Susan Happersett

Dan Flavin at David Zwirner

David Zwirner is presenting the exhibition “Corners, Barriers and Corridors” at the 20th street gallery. This show presents the work of Dan Flavin from the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. The artist is famous for his use of fluorescent light constructions to define geometry within a space.


“Untitled (to Sonja)”, 1969

Much of Flavin’s work involved the use of straight lines and grids. I was particularly happy to see a work that was all about circles.


“Untitled (to a man,George McGovern) 2” ,1972

Situated in the corner of the room “Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2” from 1972 is made up of a series of columns of circles of light. They descend in order from a height of ten circles to a single circle. The juxtaposition of the curves of the circles with the straight edges of the corner space and the placement of the circles with in a grid creates an interesting tension. The 45 degree angle produced by the descending columns gives the illusion that the circles are rolling down the construction. Dan Flavin is known as a minimalist and this work uses only the most basic elements, circles within an environment of straight lines, but the impact is impressive.

Susan Happersett

Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke at Elizabeth Dee Gallery

“wave, particle, string” is the title of the exhibition at the Elizabeth Dee gallery featuring the collaborative work of Sarah Parke and Mark Barrow.

I was walking across West 20th street when I spotted this great great mosaic in the front window of the gallery. Created by applying tiny squares of black, red, green, and blue vinyl directly to the glass, it forms a grid based on the Cartesian coordinate system. Inside the gallery there is a diverse selection of work consisting of woven textiles, painting and videos. I found the “Swipe paintings” particularly interesting.

Barrow and Parke are interested in the organization within systems of data. Taking small patterns of geometric information and repeating them through framework of the Cartesian grids, the results are both complex and ordered. In the “swipe” paintings the color changes are based on the finger swipes Barrow has made drawing on an iPad. This reinforces the link between the mathematical elements of the work and technology.

Susan Happersett


Terry Haggerty at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

The Fall season is in full swing in the New York art world. All of the galleries have opened fresh shows and I am continuing my Math/Art treasure hunt. The Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in Chelsea is exhibiting the brand new work of Terry Haggerty.  A virtuoso of parallel lines, Haggerty is able to create an illusion of depth without the use of shading.


“Detatched” – 2015 – Acrylic on wood panel

Although the paintings are on flat panels of wood, the ribbons of line seem to bend and fold. Haggerty’s technique of using hard edge lines creates an optical paradox as his forms seem to loop through space.


“Torque” – 2015 – Acrylic on wood

The painting “Torque” depicts a closed loop that appears to be twisting around itself.


“Easily Lost” – 2015- Acrylic on wood panel

Image 3 x.

“Easily Lost” is one of the most complex structure in the exhibition.The ribbon of parallel lines is thinner than in other paintings and the loop is arranged in a circuit three overlapping rings.

Haggerty uses the vocabulary of Hard Edge and Minimalist painters from years ago, but by incorporating parallel lines he has allowed his geometric forms to optically leave the 2-dimensional plane.

Susan Happersett

Pathmakers at MAD (Museum of Art and Design – New York City)

The Museum of Art and Design is currently showing the exhibition “Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today”. It showcases the work of women who were pioneers in Modernist design, as well as the work of contemporary female artists who continue the modernist aesthetic tradition. There is a broad selection of materials represented, fibers, textiles, ceramics, and metal work. One of the most interesting materials used was soap bubbles. The “Surface Tension Lamp” (2014) designed by  Swedish FRONT (Sofia Lagervist, Charlotte van der Lancken and Anna Lindgren) for Booo B.V is a lighting fixture that blows bubbles. Soap bubbles play an important role in Mathematics. The problem of minimal surfaces shows us that the way to enclose a specific volume of air with the least amount of surface area is to create a spherical soap bubble. When you have two bubbles sharing a soap film wall things get even more interesting.

Expect a bunch of new posts next week – the gallery season in New York is kicking off again.

Susan Happersett

More From The Bridges Conference 2015 in Baltimore


The use of computer generated drawing processes and inkjet printers is a popular means  of expression at the Bridges conference. Some of the more interesting examples on display were created by David Chappell. The artist builds a system of rules to generate graceful line drawings that are mathematically to related plant growth through space and time. The lines begin from a rooted position at the horizontal bottom of the picture plane and playful grow up into reaching tendrils. In order to achieve this lyrical organic quality (not an easy feat using mathematical algorithm computer generation) Chappell modifies the rules throughout the process. This extra attention allows the drawings to change and develop in a more free-form manner.


David Chappell -untitled – 2014
33 x 40 cm – Archival Inkjet Print
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

Another means of creating computer assisted art is the use of laser cutting. In his work “Islamic Fractal Starflower”, Pill Webster has cut a lace-like pattern into a clear light blue acrylic sheet. The mathematics behind this pattern is a combination of two geometric themes: the symmetry in Islamic patterns and the recursive properties of fractals. This combination requires some heavy weight mathematics, but Webster’s choice of materials transforms  the complex theories into an ethereal presence. It has the appearance of being built from delicate and complex ice crystal. The juxtaposition between the serious mathematical generation and delicate physicality of the work create an interesting tension.


Phil Webster – Islamic Fractal Starflower – 2014
38 x 38 cm – Laser cut acrylic, light blue
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

Nathaniel Friedman is one of my favorite artists for two reasons. First, he creates wonderful sculptures and prints and second because he is a very supportive of other artists. As the founder of the organization ISAMA – The International Society of Art, Mathematics and Architecture, he contacted me years ago to speak at one of the first Math Art conferences. This was my introduction into a whole community of other artists and mathematicians devoted to the aesthetics of Mathematics. I will be eternally grateful to Nat.


Nathaniel Friedman – Triple Twist Mobius – 2014
29 x 29 x 7 cm – Aluminum
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

But back to the sculpture…. “Triple Twist Mobius” consists of three equal-sized aluminum bars each with a single twist. They are joined to form a triangle shape. The clean lines and the simplicity of the form are deceiving, this is a powerful shape. The 2-D photo does not do it justice. In the gallery each vantage point offers a different geometry, it  seems to change depending on where your stand. This act of looking at something from different perspectives is referred to as hyperseeing  (a concept Friedman taught me, Thank You!)

Susan Happersett

Bridges Conference 2015 in Baltimore

Every Summer the Bridges organization holds a conference devoted to Mathematics and the Arts. Bridges is an international organization whose sole mission is to foster and explore these interdisciplinary connections. This year the meeting was held in Baltimore Maryland in the beautiful University of Baltimore Law building. Each year the Art exhibition is one of the highlights of the gathering. This year was a particularly impressive display of work in a light and open space over three floors. Here are two photos of the gallery.


It has been very difficult for me to just single out a few art works to write about, for a complete overview I suggest checking out the Bridges website. Today I will focus on two works by two different artists that struck me particularly.


Taneli Luotoniemi – “The Hyper Cube” – 2015
Pencil on paper – 42 x 40 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridges

I will start with a pencil  drawings by Taneli Luotoniemi. I have a real affinity for hand drawing and I feel Luotoniemi is able to achieve a remarkable subtly of line form and grey scale using only a pencil. “The Hypercube” Is a 2-D representation of a 3-D depiction of a 4-D cube. There have been many example of two dimensional art referencing hyper cubes but this is definitely a a more organic representation then most. This is achieved by the use of thick curved lines that meet at crossings of more solid shapes, instead of small points. By adjusting the grey scale of the pencil mark Luotoniemi gives the lines the appearance of weaving over and under each other. This is one of the most graceful visual interpretations I have seen.


David H Press – “Three ¾ Great Circles in Orange” – 2015
Laminated wood and cotton thread – 40 x 40 x 40cm
Picture courtesy of the artist and Bridges

David H. Press builds elegant hanging sculptures that are a type of 3-D line drawings. The support structures are curved shapes but the wires within these frameworks are straight lines that form what appear to be curved surfaces. Symmetry plays a major role in Press’ work. In “Three Great ¾ Circles in Orange”  the use of three circles would have created a sphere, but the ¾ circles create an asymmetrical frame work. Within the wire line work, however, there are some smaller areas with symmetrical properties. We are used to seeing complicated symmetries in Mathematical sculpture, but the use of the ¾ circles rips open the sphere, granting the viewer a fresh look.

There were so much interesting work on display this year it is hard to discuss it all in one  blog post, I will write more next week.

Susan Happersett

“Empty House Casa Vazia” at Luhring Augustine Chelsea

The current exhibition at the Luring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea, “Empty House Casa Vazia”,  features sculpture that is associated with the Neoconcretism movement in Brazil from 1959 until 1961. Neoconcretism was a reaction against the rationalism of Concretism. Although Neoconcretism continued the use geometry to create abstractions, they were not interested in pure form. Instead, they introduced a human element.
Lygia Clark was an important member of the Neoconcrete movement. She added a participatory element to her sculptures. The viewer was encouraged to manipulate her hinged metal sculptures. I have written an earlier blog post about the MOMA exhibition of Clark’s work, but I was not permitted to take any photos, so I was thrilled the gallery is allowing me to share a photo now.
Lygia Clark-00369-srgb

Lygia Clark – Bicho, 1960/1984 – Steel 19 5/8 x 17 11/16 inches (50 x 45 cm) © O Mundo de Lygia Clark-Associação Cultural, Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London, and Luhring Augustine, New York Photo: Michael Brzezinski

 “Bicho” consists of a series of sheet steel isosceles right triangles (isosceles triangles whose vertex angle is 90 degrees). They are hinged together to form a complete loop that can be arranged in many different positions.
Lygia Pape-NoiteDia-srgb

Lygia Pape – Livro da noite e dia, 1963/76 – Acrylic and tempera on wood; group of 4 6 1/4 x 6 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches (16 x 16 x 15 cm) Each: C25912 © Lygia Pape; Courtesy of the artist, Galeria Graça Brandão, and Luhring Augustine, New York Photo credit – António Leal

Lygia Pape’s series of wooden wall sculptures titled “Livro da noite e dia” features a series of 6 1/4″ squares. Each square has at least one geometric shape removed from the edge or corner. Then those shapes, triangles, squares, trapezoid….are shifted and layered onto another part of the square resulting in interesting symmetries.
Amilcar de Castro_estrela-cobre srgb

Amilcar de Castro – Estrela, 1952 – Copper 17 11/16 x 17 11/16 x 17 11/16 inches (45 x 45 x 45 cm) .3cm thickness of copper © Amilcar de Castro; Courtesy of the artist, Galeria Marilia Razuk, São Paulo, and Luhring Augustine, New York

“Estrela”, a copper sculpture by Amilcar de Castro, is made up of three rectangles. Each rectangle has been bisected diagonally and folded and joined together to make a sculpture with all sorts of triangular possibilities.

These practitioners of Neoconcretism employed mathematics in their work, particularly Geometry. But their art was about something even deeper, it was about how humans interact with the geometry. This is achieved in a different way by each of the artists: In the case of Lygia Clark through tactile manipulation, Lygia Pace’s intriguing puzzle-like squares encourage the viewer to ponder the missing pieces, and De Castro’s sculpture invites the viewer to walk around the work, because it changes dramatically depending on the location and angle from which it is viewed. In some ways these sculptures reveal more about our relationship with Mathematics than many other artistic movements.
Susan Happersett

Topologist’s Pool Toy

We have been having a hot and humid week in NYC so it was probably not the most well advised plan to go traipsing around the Lower East Side. I was thinking to myself what am I doing here in the midday sun walking from gallery to gallery and then… I saw this amazing sculpture that just seemed to scream Mathematics in the Summer time.

This inflated vinyl hanging form”Squirm” is the work of Doreen McCarthy and is part of the group show titled “Object’hood” at the Lesley Heller Workspace. This sculpture has the materiality of a classic tube used for floating around in a pool on a steamy afternoon. Topologically we think of the traditional pool toy as being a donut-like torus, but this baby blue version is a knot instead. It is a 3D interpretation of a trefoil knot, Which is a basic overhand knot with the ends joined together. I found “Squirm” to be a refreshing topographical Summer treat.
15-30-2Susan Happersett