The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Since its inception Aldrich has been committed to the collection and display of modern art, including some of the most important work in the areas of Minimalism, Conceptual, and Geometric art. The founder Larry Aldrich acquired the work of Eva Hess, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and many others. For the 50th anniversary a two part exhibition has been installed in the galleries over the past year. The curators have created a connection between the historical artwork from the early years of the museum to contemporary art. Artists were asked to respond to the work from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
David Scanavino’s site-specific room-sized installation “Imperial Texture” is the artist’s dialog with the work of Richard Artschwager. Artschwager is well known for his use of formica to make geometric forms that have the same shape as everyday items but can not actually be used as such. His sculpture “Pyramid Object” from 1967 was displayed near Scanavino’s installation.
“Imperial Texture” 2014
Courtesy of the artist and the museum
“Imperial Texture” consists of a grid of 1 by 1 foot square linoleum tiles that have been installed into the gallery at an angle so that they come off the floor and climb the walls. The tiling pattern was developed using computer software to make a digital model. This fact alone would make this a mathematically interesting piece. But what I find mathematically inspirational about this environment is the impact of a 2-D grid being retrofit into the 3-D rectangular box. The traditional gallery space has a multicolored seemingly random patterned floor, that has been shifted leaving part of the floor uncovered. Scanavino’s decision to place the grid at an angle has created series of right triangles with their hypotenuses running along the lines where the walls meet the floors. “Imperial Texture” gives the museum visitor an altered sense of space. The linoleum floor we are accustomed to seeing on the floors of schools, stores and other industrial and institutional settings has shifted out of it’s practical floor covering purpose.
The Umbrella Arts Gallery in the East Village is presenting a show titled “Off the Grid”, which features work that is created using a grid formation, or is displayed in a grid presentation. Audrey Stone works with thread to produce fine line patterns. Her work in this exhibition offers elegant representations of squares and grids.
The thread drawing on paper “blue X” comprises of an 8 by 8 square grid. Each square has thirteen line segments radiating from one of its corners to points on the opposite sides of the square. The drawing has four-fold rotational symmetry. To achieve this symmetry, the artist has chosen from which corner of each grid square the line segments radiate. In the squares located in the upper left quarter of the drawing, the lower right corner is the point of where all thirteen line segments meet. In the upper right quarter of the work the lower left corner of each grid square is the radiating point. The lower left quarter of the drawing has the line segments all go to the upper right corner. And finally in the lower right quarter, the line segments radiate from the upper left corner.
“The Lion and the Lamb” is a sewn painting, created with thread and paint on stretched linen. This work is more directly related to squares and the parallel lines of concentric squares. The top half of the piece shows half of a series of cencentric sqaures and uses paint. The form at the bottom of the canvas shows a series of complete concentric squares and is is sewn with thread onto the canvas.
Stone’s use of thread to create the lines in her drawings relates to traditional women’s needle work, but her subject matter is based in mathematical geometry.
“Off the grid” is on display at Umbrella Arts, 317 east 9th St until February 28. It is definitely worth a trip to the East Village.
Paul Pagk is a critically acclaimed NY painter who work deals with abstract geometries. The 33 Orchard gallery is exhibiting a selection of his recent works on paper. Titled “November Drawings” this entire series of work was produced during November 2014. Tacked unframed onto the gallery walls, the work consists of a series of abstractions created in graphite, ink, oil pastel, pencil, pen, watercolor, and gouache.
The drawings were created in a prolific progression: the artist completing up to twenty works per day. They relate to the themes in Pagk’s painting practice. The works on paper seem to visualize the artist’s stream of consciousness. The mind to paper immediacy creates an exciting and fresh take on geometry. The work at 33 Orchard have a much more sketchy and expressive quality then some of the artists work on canvas. Many of the drawings in this show have Mathematical elements.
This work consists on a red and black rectangular grid with both horizontal and vertical lines of reflection symmetry. The red spaces do not have clean edges instead the pigment goes out beyond the sides of the rectangle. The black lines that make up horizontal and vertical markings give the work a sense of movement. You can really see the hand of the artist.
A 2-D rendering of the outline of a 3-D rectangular prism, this work has a band of purple as a background. The delicate black line drawing is in the foreground. An extra vertical plain is sketched through the prism and out beyond the purple band. This vertical element, in conjunction with the 3-D object, seems to allude to the Cartesian coordinate system. I feel Pagk’s success in producing such large selection of work so quickly and thoughtfully is due to his dedication to his painting practice. The “November Drawings” are a more direct and tactile representation of mathematical ideas. In my own drawing process I refer to my mark making as mathematical meditations, and I think this description also applies to Pagk’s month of drawing.
A solo exhibition entitled “Drift” by c is currently installed at Callicoon Fine Arts Gallery on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. The show is made up of a diverse selection of work, addressing the plight of refugees lost and perishing at sea. Bergvall has published an artist book also titled “Drift” with Nightboat Books. Although the theme of the art included in this exhibition is not mathematic, one of the pieces in the show does have a mathematical component.
Courtesy of the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts, NY
The video “Seafarer” from 2014 consists of electronic text that floats in and out of view in a 17-minute loop. The sequence of textual images has been produced using algorithms to determine which words appear at each moment in time and and space. The words in video take on an ghostly presence as they move in and out of focus. When discussing the topic of Mathematical Art, I feel that it is important to include work that has been produced or generated by mathematical algorithms. Although the subject matter of Bergvall’s body of work is not Math, the use of mathematics was essential in creating the ethereal and emotionally moving environment to present her text.
Every January there are a whole host of Art and Antique Fairs in NYC. One of my favorites is the Metro Curates Show. This event features dealers that together present a broad eclectic selection: Ethnographic Art, 20th century Modernist abstract paintings, folk art, as well as new work by contemporary artists.
Constantine Karron, Untitled, 1940’s
ink on paper, 16 x 13 in.
Picture courtesy of Ricco Maresca Gallery
In the Ricco Maresca Gallery booth I found this amazing grid of drawings made in the 1940’s by Constantine Karron. These intricate works were all handmade using basic drafting tools. All but one of the 16 drawings are circles or regular polygons. The elaborate decorations feature rotational symmetries of varying degrees up to 16-fold. The precision and detail in these drawings is amazing. The only work that does not feature a circle or a regular polygon and has only 2-fold rotational symmetry is the drawing in the third column from the left, and is the third down from the top of the grid. This is a drawing of an irregular 16-sided polygon (hexadecagon) that has both horizontal and vertical lines of reflection symmetry. Ricco Maresca Gallery is displaying and selling these works as a group. Although each of the drawings is very interesting on its own, together they have an even more powerful visual impact.
Annette Cords, “Combined Operations”, 2012
handwoven jacquard tapestry
Picture courtesy of Umbrella Arts
Annette Cords’ handwoven jacquard tapestry “Combined Operations” from 2012 was on display at the Umbrella Arts booth. I was immediately drawn into their space when I saw the geodesic spheres woven into this work. Cords also creates paintings and installations all dealing with systems of information and physics. The geometry of the spheres are quite clear but the jacquard weaving technique gives the lines a nice sketch quality. The lunar background gives the work an ethereal presence.
I spoke with Umbrella Arts gallerist and curator Margaret Bodell about my interest in Art and Mathematics and she gave me a preview of some of the amazing work that will be featured in the next show at their gallery in lower Manhattan. The exhibition is titled “Off the Grid” and it will take place from February 5th to February 28th. I will definitely be heading downtown to see and review the show. I know already there will be art with interesting Mathematical connections.
The David Zwirner Gallery’s 20th Street branch in Chelsea is presenting a large show of the work by one of the most influential Dutch artists of the last half of the twentieth century, Jan Schoonhoven. A member of the Nul Groep in Holland, Schoonhoven was connected to the international art movement “ZERO Group”. The artist members of these groups worked to develop a type of art that was more objective then the more emotionally expressive art created after WWII. Schoonhoven established techniques to create monochromatic wall sculptures that relied on clean geometric lines to explore form,light, and shadows.
Jan Schoonhoven – “R70-28″ – 1970
The rectangular grids like the ones seen in “R70-28″ from 1970 are probably the types of structures that became most famous. A square relief sculpture with 5 columns with ten rows each. The white walls are the grid lines, creating rectangles with a 1:2 ratio of height to width. The exhibition at David Zwirner is quite inclusive and includes works on paper, earlier geometric work, as well as work featuring more complex geometry.
Schoonhoven used latex paint, paper, cardboard and wood to assemble these sculptures. The hand of the artist has given these 3-D spaces an ageless quality. Although the geometry is all straight edges there is a softness to the lines of these shadow boxes.
Jan Schoonhoven – “R69-33″
The work “R69-33″ from 1969 has a rather complex pattern made up of trapezoidal surfaces. They are positioned into rows with horizontal axes of symmetry. The longer side of each trapezoid is closest to the viewer. This work offers a dramatic example of Schoonhoven’s use of shadows.
Jan SChoonhoven – “Diagonalen” – 1967
“Diagonalen” from 1967 is one of my favorite pieces in the show. The grid format is intact but by bisecting each grid square on alternating diagonals the artist has created a lattice of right triangles. One of the most exciting elements of Schoonhoven’s wall sculptures is that they change depending on the angle from which you see the art. As the viewer moves around the gallery the shadows are changing.
All pictures courtesy of the gallery.
The Danese Corey Gallery is currently exhibiting the abstract geometric paintings of Warren Isensee. The artist uses a playful vocabulary of color to achieve an exciting sense of light. The straight edges are all hand painted without the aid of taping and Isensee uses adjacent colors that create enough tension that the work pulses with energy.
“Dark Heart”, 2014
The large square canvas “Dark Heart” provides an interesting perspective on the grid. Floating in a field of steel blue, the yellow black and red figure is made up of solid and striped squares. Alternating from horizontal to vertical of striped squares, the patterning draws the viewer’s eye to the two central horizontal bands. This work features both horizontal an vertical axises of symmetry through its center .
“Surface Noise” offers the viewer an optical trick. At first glance it appears to have a nice neat four-fold rotational symmetry. The artist has painstaking created detailed elements of the composition that possess four-fold rotational symmetrical patterns. Only after close inspection you realize that the small center form is a rectangle and not a square. This painting has horizontal and vertical axises of symmetry, but it is not four-fold rotational symmetry. I think the slight deviation makes “Surface Noise” more interesting. It becomes a commentary on the visual expectations of symmetry.
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist.
More math art next time
The Museum of of Modern Art is currently hosting an exhibition of the work of 17 diverse artists entitled “The Forever Now, Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World”. The work is all made in the 21st Century, and the general theme of the show is that this work does not have defining elements that would indicate when the work was produced. The term “atemporal” refers to timelessness, as well as the way the art incorporates ideas from the past. The internet offers contemporary artists access to massive amounts of images and texts about previous generations of artists and their work. This knowledge is then incorporated into this new 21st century art.
Dianna Molzan has two works in the show that relate to the traditional rectangular dimensions of a stretched canvas paintings. The first, “Untitled 2010″, features a set of wooden stretcher bars with canvas attached on the two vertical sides. the painted canvas has been slashed with a series of horizontal cuts that creates ribbons of canvas that drape down in curve.
The second painting, “Untitled 2011″, is also based on a rectangle, but instead of having all four sides made out of wood, the left side of the frame and the bottom edge have been replaced with a stuffed and painted canvas tube. This has created a slack curved line.
Both of these works address the idea of the rectangular perimeter of traditional easel paintings. Molzan has distorted the geometry of the shape by either slashing the canvas or replacing the stretcher bar with a fabric sculptural element.
Pictures courtesy of the museum and the artist.
– Susan Happersett
The huge installation construction “Moun Room” by Housago is currently on display at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery on 18th street in Manhattan. The plaster and iron re-bar structure is actually three rooms – one inside the other – like nesting dolls. There are circular and arched openings so the viewer can see into the layers of the structure from the outside, as well as walk into the construction.
The artists choice of materials as well as his building techniques create a contrast from the rough exterior where the support elements are visible to the smoothness of the interior plaster walls. It was snowy day in Manhattan on the afternoon that I visited the gallery and the interior corridors almost seemed to glow liked packed snow. There is definitely a spiritual element to the experience.
The architecture of this work is very much invested in the geometry of circles. Houseago explores circles as both positive and negative space. Sets of consecutive circles, and circles divided by arcs and chords are also featured throughout the installation.
Houseago uses the same geometric principles found in modernist paintings since the middle of the 20th century. The scale, materials and textures of “Moun House” offer a fresh perspective to the circular theme.
All pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist.
Each December the department stores in NYC create elaborate window displays to celebrate the season. This year, the window at Barney’s on Madison Avenue include Mathematical art. “The Snow Spirits” is a collection of kinetic sculptures by Anthony Howe that creates an eye catching display. The sculptures are based on circular rings that serve as the axis of rotation for rows of spinning, graduated circles. Because the axis is round, the circles fly into the center, and then fly outward again. These shining sculptures are one of the best expressions of snow flakes I have ever seen.
On a different, but also Mart-Art-related note, I like the use of repetitive images. Over the past year I have created a series of over 100 ceramic Santas.
Happy New Year – and let’s all look for more Math Art in 2015!