Vera Molnar at Senior and Shopmaker Gallery

Vera Molnar is an early practitioner of computer art. A founding member of the “Groupe de Recherché d’art Visuel” (GRAV), Molnar utilizes technology to create abstract art. Her exhibit at Senior and Shopmaker Gallery includes computer drawings made between 1968 and 1986 as well as some earlier hand drawings.
Using the programming languages Fortran and Basic, Molnar generated images that explore a multitude of variations on a particular geometric theme.

These two ink prints from 1974 – both titled “Hypertransformation of 20 Concentric Squares” – are printed  on Benson plotter paper. Exploring concept of concentric squares with an interesting twist, the computer allows for a multitude of variables. Molnar added an unexpected element of chance by creating small deviations in the programming. This extra element of uncertainty gives the work a frenetic sense of motion contrasting the stability usually associated with the humble square.
Susan Happersett

“Superposition” at Joshua Liner Gallery

The Joshua Liner gallery is currently presenting “Superposition”, an exhibit curated by Johnny Abrahams. The title of the show refers to quantum mechanics and the concept of an atomic element appearing to be in multiple positions at the same exact moment in time. The works in the show offer some alternate ways to look at geometric forms and patterns.

Vanha Lam’s “Broken Plane” series of paintings is an excellent example of a unique representation of one of the most basic shapes.

Each work is a paining of a rectangle, but the canvas has been sliced into two pieces creating a top section and a bottom section. In the case of the black and white paintings the bottom panel overlaps the top panel. In the yellow painting the top overlaps the bottom.  The simple rectangle has broken out of the the 2-D plane, taking on new characteristics of space and shadows.

“Superposition” is up until April 22 at Joshua Liner Gallery, 540 W 28 St, New York.

Susan Happersett

Art+Mathematics – Sharol Nau at Landmark Center, Saint Paul, MN

This week a guest blog entry by Sharol Nau. Her show “Art+Mathematics” is on through April 22, 2018 at the Landmark Center (North Gallery), 75 Fifth Street West, Saint Paul, MN. 

On June 7, 1742, Christian Goldbach wrote a letter to Leonhard Euler, suggesting that any even number greater than 4 is expressible as the sum of two odd primes. Goldbach’s conjecture has served as a springboard, providing me with inspiration for a series of artworks. The patterns produced that were inspired by this simple statement are tiled patterns with an even number of tiles that are partitioned into two sets. Each set consists of a prime number of tiles. My goal was to construct interesting artworks using traditional and non-traditional materials.

Square arrangement: The canvas is partitioned into an even number of squares distinguished by a design based on two primes that sum to that even number.

Tapioca, 48″ x 48″ (Square Arrangement)

Scattered arrangement: The distribution of triangles is separated into several groups, offering several smaller shapes similar in color or texture relating to their designated prime.

Goldbach White, 36″ x 48″ (scattered arrangement using the even number 32 = 19+13)

Tight arrangement: The distribution of triangles is separated into only two shapes.

Goldbach Orange, 10″ x 8″ (tight arrangement using the even number 32 = 19+13)


Sharol Nau



Stan Douglas’ DCT series at David Zwirner Gallery

David Zwirner Gallery is currently presenting recent abstract work in Stan Doulas’ “DCT series”. “DCT” refers to discrete cosine transformation. Each composition is created by the artist entering data for frequencies, amplitudes and color. The numerical data is manipulated through a custom computer program. The photographic prints are based solely on this process: there is no physical subject matter. They are printed on stretched and gessoed canvas and take on the form of abstract paintings.
“6AA6” from 2017, is a good example of the symmetries created in the geometric patterns created using Douglas’ unique system of image generation. The square canvas features order-4 rotational symmetry with the lines of reflections running along the diagonals. The pattern can also be seen as a tiling made up of squares also positioned diagonally. Each square has one of  two different types of geometries in a checkerboard layout.
Douglas is well known for more traditional photography, where an actual scene or object is depicted. These new techniques allow the artist to create a visual representation of numerical data transformed through technology.
Susan Happersett

“Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic” at the American Folk Art Museum

It may seem unlikely to find Mathematical Art at a Folk Art Museum. The current exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in NY features the work of what is often referred to as “outsider artists”. This term is controversial because it is very subjective what and who is inside or outside the standard “Art World”. It often means artists who have no official art training and are self taught or artists with medical or psychological or social situations that creates a position of isolation. There were two artists included in this exhibition who possessed  an intense interest in mathematics.
Paul Laffoley’s large painting “The Living Klein Bottle House of Time” from 1978 presents a fantastic  schematic for life inside a Klein Bottle, complete with schematic diagrams. This painting offers us a unique perspective on Mathematics and society.
Jean Perdrizet’s  series of diagrams for “La tour logarithmique (The logarithmic tower)” show the artist’s desire to create a object to solve mathematical logarithmic problems. The intense drawing and numbering reveal the emotional urgency of Perdrizet’s mission.
I have been writing this blog for a few years now and one of the things that I have learned is to look for art with Mathematical themes everywhere. I was so happy to discover these two amazing works, I feel they have a lot to reveal about how different people relate to Mathematics regardless if the artists are inside or outside the standard norms of Math or Art.
Susan Happersett

Richard Anuszkiewicz at Loretta Howard Gallery

Richard Anuszkiewicz’s sculptural wooden wall constructions are currently on display in the exhibition “Translumina Series 1989-1993” at the Loretta Howard Gallery. These geometric forms present the illusion of three dimensionality but, except for low relief line carving the sculptures are flat.
“Orange Light- Day and Night” from 1990 resembles two open boxes with the openings angled in opposite directions. The left hand box opens upper wards towards the left and the right hand box opens down wards to the right. The use of parallel lines plays a important role in creation a sense of dimensionality.
The carved away white lines are thinner near the edges and thicker towards the center of each of the quadrilateral elements. This process has created the effect of shadows.
“Translumina- Marriage of Silver and Gold” from 1992 also features two open square boxes. In this sculpture the two geometric shapes appear to be entwined, creating a more complex representation of foreground and background. Anuszkiewicz’s geometric paintings offer the viewer contrasting perspectives on space. Low profile wood carving gives the work an objectness, actually coming slightly off gallery wall, but the work seems to be much more dimensional.
Susan Happersett

The Beautiful Brain: The drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

The Grey Art Gallery at NYU is currently presenting the scientific drawings of Spanish neuro-scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Created at the end of the 19th century into the beginning of the 20th century the accuracy of these drawings are unsurpassed . These images are still used for scientific purposes.
This example is a pen and ink drawing of a Purkinje neuron from the human cerebellum from 1899 shows the scientist’s skills as a draftsman. These works were all done freehand looking through a microscope there is a more to these pieces than just research. Ramón y Cajal had an artistic sense of line and pattern.
This next drawing depicts a cut nerve outside the spinal cord from 1913. I think this work is a excellent representation of the contrast between an ordered system and chaos. The lines used to show axons in the center take on an almost lyrical sense of disorder.
This exhibition could be seen more as a Science/Art show then a Math/Art show. I feel however that the neurological systems examined in Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s work possess mathematical themes, including set theory. It is an exquisite exhibition and one of the best examples I have seen of scientific research in which the final product is Art that can be appreciated on it’s own merits. Special Thanks to Elizabeth Whiteley who sent me the info. If you can not see the show in NYC it will be on display at MIT in May
Susan Happersett

Mark Reynolds at Pierogi Gallery

Mark Reynolds creates complex drawings of intense networks of geometric grids. The exhibition provides the public with some some sketches and studies to reveal some of the artist’s processes.
There are two different ways Reynold’s starts his patterns. One of the techniques utilizes historic images. This vitrine contained a small reproduction of a Botticelli painting with a sheet of tracing paper on which a series of guide lines have been drafted. There is also a notebook with a studies for the drawings that are based completely on Mathematical phenomena.
The drawing “Double Phi Series, Ideal Mathematical Space 23,11,16”, from 2016 employs both linear and curvilinear grids to fill the plane. This particular piece is more orderly then some of the other drawings at first glance it seems as though there might be two axises of reflective symmetry, but on closer inspection the two points on either side from which a series of rays emanates are not in the center of the side. There is only a vertical line of mirror symmetry.
“Square Series: Generation of the Harmonic Mean, 3-4-6, 11-29-12, from 2012 presents two opposing ideas. The sequence of rotating squares provides well ordered geometric shapes while the underlying cacophony of line work gives the feeling of disorder.
The detailed and precise complexity of the many layers of grids within Mark Reynold’s work unveil the order within chaotic patterning.
Susan Happersett

Cristina Camacho at Praxis

Using a process of making precise cuts through canvas Cristina Camacho creates a very unique type of dimensionality to straight edge drawing.
This example is based on a line drawing of an irregular pentagon with a vertical line of reflective symmetry. A series of lines have been drawn emanating from the two upper corners of the form featuring the same reflective symmetry. The top layer of canvas has been sliced in parallel line segments allowing the fabric to hang and drape off the 2-D plane.
The underlining canvas has a series of bars parallel to the top two sides of the pentagon cut completely away. This creates both positive and negative space as well as a shadow box effect.
What I find so interesting about this work is the way the shadows and especially the hanging drape of canvas make us look at a flat geometric figure in a very different way. The sculptural quality has been augmented by the obvious presence of light and gravity which play an important role in the transition from 2 to 3 dimensions.
Susan Happersett

Barry McGee at Cheim & Read Gallery

Known for his free-for-all type of installations, Barry McGee is consistent in his unpredictability. His newest display at Cheim & Read Gallery consists of hundreds of objects. There are stacks of objects and dozens of paintings on canvas wood and cardboard. There is one prevalent theme throughout the space and that is the use of geometric patterning.

“Untitled”, 2017

This collection of shaped paintings is a single work of art. Each shape is filled with a tiling of  geometric patterns.
Here is an example of a tiling made up of  yellow Rhombuses and isosceles triangles in two shades of red.
This black and white design features squares set on the diagonal with alternating bands of black and white.

“Untitled”, 2017

Here is another wall in the gallery, consisting of a collection of framed works on paper. The wall has been sculpted to bulge out at the bottom. In this assortment of drawings there are more of the tilings, but there are also illustrations of geometric figures.
Within the random nature of McGee’s installation the impressive use of mathematical patterning becomes a unifying factor.
Susan Happersett