Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner Gallery

Ruth Asawa studied at the Mountain College, and in the late 1940’s began making crocheted wire sculptures. This solo exhibition at at David Zwirner features a large collection of these hanging forms.

Almost all of the structures feature a vertical line of symmetry. No matter your vantage point in the gallery the reflective symmetry is visible.

This sculpture is referred to in the catalog as “Untitled, 1954, Hanging, Seven-lobed Continuous, Interwoven Form, with Spheres with in Two Lobes”. It shows another element of Asawa’s work: the interior and exterior forms change positions. They seem to flow through each other.
This phenomenon questions our preconceived ideas about the rules for inside and outside in a 3-D geometric shape.

Susan Happersett

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Fashion and Mathematics

The Museum at FIT is currently presenting an exhibit titled “Force on Nature”, that features clothing and accessories that refer to the natural world. There are many growth patterns found in nature that can be expressed mathematically, so it is no surprise that I found some interesting math in the show.
This dress created by fashion design collective “ThreeASFOUR” in 2016 features geometric fractal patterns.
MC Escher is probably one of the most famous examples of artists who explored math in his art.
This dress by Alexander McQueen in 2009 is inspired by Escher’s work. The birds become a houndstooth pattern.
All pictures courtesy of the designers and the Museum at FIT.
Susan Happersett

TWINKLE IN THE EYE – A group show at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery

The current exhibit at the Pablo’s Birthday Gallery on the Lower East Side features a number of works with interesting geometric themes.

Henrik Eiben – Minnesota – Steel
Picture courtesy of the gallery

Henrik Eiben’s steel wall construction, titled “Minnesota” is built from a collection of isosceles right triangles. Joining two congruent triangles along their legs (sides that form the right angle) results in parallelograms. Adding a third triangle, a trapezoid is formed. The steel sections have been hinged together with leather and some of the triangles that make up this open frame are angled off the wall. This gives the work a more 3-D presence, with the breaking off the flat wall pale into the gallery space.

Karsten Konrad – VW – Mixed media
Picture courtesy of the gallery

“VW”  is a mixed media octagonal mosaic by Karsten Konrad. The walls of the sculpture are created using a series of parallel strips creating a series of tight concentric octagons. This is in contrast to the multicolored parallel strips in the patchwork of diagonals that make up the central image.
Susan Happersett

Eric Erickson at Buster Levi Gallery

The paintings on display at Eric Erickson’s solo exhibition at the Buster Levi Gallery in Cold Spring, NY are part of a new series referred to as “Diagrams”. According to Erickson this work is “related to dubious diagrams often found with anything needing home assembly”.
The artist has taken the inaccurate 2-D schematic representations for the 3-D items we build and live with everyday and distilled the geometric qualities of these images into solid blocks of color and subtle painted line drawings. Although the original instructional diagrams may have lacked the necessary information to accurately represent real objects, the shapes themselves create interesting compositions.
Susan Happersett

“A Line Can Go Anywhere” at James Cohen Gallery

The James Cohen Gallery is currently presenting “A Line Can Go Anywhere”.  Curated by Jenelle Porter, this exhibit features the work of 7 fiber artist from the Bay area.
I was particularly intrigued by the work of Trude Guermonprez. This untitled work from the 1960’s has two perpendicular planes of weaving.
There is usually a grid-like nature to a weaving produced by the warp and the weft that gives it mathematical properties. Creating isosceles triangles, Guermonprez has broken the squares we expect in a woven grid with exciting results.
Susan Happersett

Polly Apfelbaum at Alexander Gray Associates

The exhibition “Polly Apfelbaum: The Potential of Women” at the Alexander Gray Associates gallery features a new series of gauche paintings inspired by the 1963 book “The Potential of Woman”.
Written for a symposium of the same name, this text offers a condescending outlook on the future contributions of women. The cover design by Rudolph deHarek features a portrait of a woman’s head using flat shapes of color with a vertical line of reflective symmetry.
Using this image as a staring point, Apfelbaum repeats and rotates the original form to create paintings with a variety symmetrical properties.
In this work the woman’s head has been repeated once and rotated 180 degrees, creating order 2 rotational symmetry.
For this next painting the head is repeated 6 more times. The arrangement of 7 women offers some more complex patterns. By slightly altering the central figure the artist was able to impose both vertical and horizontal lines of reflective symmetry in this work.
Apfelbaum’s appropriation of this particular image offers a socially charged commentary. The use of mathematics to manipulate the image creates a dynamic visual dialogue.
Susan Happersett
All pictures courtesy of the gallery

“Expanding Abstraction: New England Women Painters, 1950 To Now” at the De Cordova Museum.

One of the more interesting Summer exhibitions that I visited this year (open till mid September) is this show at the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Many of the paintings on display feature mathematical themes. Geometry was a popular subject for abstract artists in the 1970’s. Maude Morgan and Terri Priest both incorporate geometric principles in their work.

Maude Morgan , “Gold Coast II” , 1971
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Maude Morgan painting “Gold Coast II” features bright squares in the center of the canvas that pulsate against the background. In the lower left corner there is series of striking turquoise rectangles.

Terri Priest’, “Panoply, Summer Evening”, 1976
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Terri Priest’s “Panoply, Summer Evening” from 1976 utilizes vertical parallel lines to create a surface that is broken by a few loose orange lines running slightly off the diagonal.

This exhibit also showcases more contemporary art.

Reese Inman, “Stinglattice II”, 2006
Picture courtesy of the De Cordova Museum

Reese Inman’s “Stinglattice II” from 2006. With experience as a computer programmer, Priest uses algorithms and a computer print-out plan for each of the colors within the grid. She then hand-paints each dot onto the canvas.

The art on display spans six decades, demonstrating the many styles and themes that fall under the umbrella of abstract painting. Mathematical influences appear throughout this history.

 

Susan Happersett

More from the Bridges Conference in Waterloo

There are a number of artists who have been making mathematical art for many years. I have been following the work of Carlo H. Sequin and John Hiigli since I first became interested in the field. It was great to see some of their new work on display.
Sequin’s sculpture , “Pentagonal Dyck Cycle”, uses 5 connected elliptical Dyck disks to create a single sided surface (like a Moebius Strip). This complex form was designed on a computer and produced in ABS plastic formed by fused deposition modeling. The undulating curves create a sensuality not often found using this method. Sequin has successfully created an emotionally charged object using Mathematics and technology.
 
John Hiigli”s painting “Chrome 209” depicts a icosahedron, a polyhedron with 20 faces inside an octahedron, a polyhedron with 8 faces. The icosahedron is twisted, so that 8 of its faces share a plan with on of each of the 8 faces of the octahedron. Using transparent oil paint Hiigli lets us see inside of the shapes, creating an elegant geometry of color within the delicate straight line schematic drawing.
 
Christopher Arabadjis used only blue and red ballpoint pens to create this drawing. Using 2-D depiction of octahedrons in square at the bottom of the image, Arabadjis begins a process of projecting 3-D forms onto a 2-D plane. The squares become parallelograms. Then after the 6 by 6 grid of octagons is complete, Arabadijs adds two more rows to give the illusion of another dimensionality.
Susan Happersett

Bridges Conference Art Exhibit – Waterloo 2017

Once again there was a lot of interesting art on display at the Bridges Conference this year. Way to much to write about in my blog. To see more work the entire gallery is available on the Bridges website.
It is always difficult to pick a few pieces, but I will choose six over two blog posts.
Veronika Irvine’s sculpture “Delle Caustiche (Sagittarius Star Cloud)” incorporates the art of bobbin lace making into a 3-D surface. The hexagonal lace pattern has been altered to create a disc formation with larger hexagons at the outer edge of the curves. It required 3 rotations of this disc process. Copper wire has been used to give the lace structure. Irvine’s intricate band of lace graceful curves up and out of the plane.
Guy Petzall’s “Obloid Whorl” pop-up model is masterful created, using a single sheet of paper.  Cutting and folding along a grid format, Petzall creates what he refers to as “a whorling meander motif”. The flat paper has been transformed into a rising spiral.
 
 Lee Angold used water-soluble carbon to hand paint “Pinus nigra”. It is a an exploration of Fibonacci spirals found in cones of the Austrian pine, but with a twist. Cones with imperfect Phylotaxis are also included.
Susan Happersett

“Passage + Obstacle” at University of Waterloo Art Gallery – Canada

This year the Bridges Math Art conference was held at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. To coordinate with the conference, the University Art Gallery (UWAG) presented the exhibit “Passage + Obstacle”, featuring work that addresses the mission of the Bridges organization, as well as metaphorical bridges that allow transport over obstacles.

“Protogon Shift” (triptych), Andrew James Smith, 2014
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

In Andrew James Smith’s triptych painting “Protogon Shift”, each of the three canvases begins with a triangle at its center. A series of 98 polygons are connected to form a spiral composed of all straight lines. Leading us from the most basic polygon (triangle ) to the most complex.

“Protogon Shift” (triptych), Andrew James Smith, 2014 (side view)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The images changes appearance depending on the viewer’s vantage point in the gallery.

“Composition in Red, Green, And Blue”, Laura De Decker, 2013
Digital animation – gallery still shot 
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Laura De Deckers video “Composition in Red, Green, And Blue” was created using custom computer code written by the artist to create prints. Using just the three colors De Decker transforms computer language to abstract visual images. Here is just a short sample of the video.
The Bridges conference also sponsored its own art exhibition which I will write about in future blog posts.
Susan Happersett