Mathew Marks Gallery’s currently exhibition ” Jordan Belson: Paintings 1950-1965″ features 23 painting some never seen before) and 4 films. Jordan Belson was a renowned, ground breaking film maker. His work was heavily influenced by the psychedelic activities in San Francisco during the 1950’s, but he was committed to the use of science and geometry in both his films and his paintings.
“Porazzo Polyhedra”, casein, tempera and pastel on board from 1965 incorporates pentagons and octagons to form a sphere. This is a clear reference to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes.
This “Untitled” painting also from 1965 shows the artist’s interest in circles and rotational symmetry.
Belson did not exhibit his paintings after 1950. Looking at his work today we can see his paintings were ahead of their time and foreshadow the work of painters in the late 1960’s and 1970’s
The Journal of Mathematics and the Arts has announced an upcoming special issue devoted to artist’s statements. I will be editing this issue as a guest editor.
A lot of artists are not familiar with the concept of Math Art and I am often asked what is Math Art? Here is my definition: In order to be considered Math Art, art work must meet one or more of these three criteria:
(1) The work is created using mathematics,
(2) it presents mathematical themes,or
(3) it is expressing the effects of mathematics on society.
Any artist who makes work that falls into any of these classifications are encouraged to submit their statement for publication. You can find the submission guidelines here
Each Spring the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils a new installation. This year the museum is presenting an Alicja Kwade”s installation titled “Parapivot”.The two steel and stone sculptures are based on perceptions of solar systems. Each is comprised of a series of rectangular black steel frames with stone orbs balanced on the beams. One structure features 3 intersecting rectangles and the other has 5 rectangles.
Here is the sculpture with 5 rectangles.
Each of the five frames are perpendicular to the ground. Looking at the work from a distance the view of the rectangular frames is distorted, appearing to be trapezoids and other irregular quadrilaterals.
Focusing on the intersecting lines of the bases of the rectangles helps to understand how the shapes have been arranged in space. Building a 3-D steel line drawing to create flat open planes juxtaposed with the weightiness of the stone spheres Kwade presents questions of perception.
The Miguel Abreu Gallery is currently presenting a group show titled “Mostly Early Works by Gallery Artists”. One of the works o display is an onyx sculpture from 2015 by Jean-Luc Moulène titled “Sample (Onyx)”
The sculpture is composed of five rounded cones. Two pointed in opposite directions to form an axis. The remaining three are jutting out perpendicularly to the axis.
The three cones around the axis are positioned at 120 degree intervals to create order 3 rotational symmetry. This symmetry is visible when the work is viewed at a looking straight at the points of the axis.
The Whitney Museum’s current exhibition “Spilling Over Painting Color in the 1960’s” features work from their collection that explore the perception of bold color. Geometry was a powerful vehicle of expression for a number of artists represented.
Alvin Loving’s “Septehedron 34” acrylic on shaped canvas from 1970 presents a 3-D projection of an imaginary seven sided figure on to the 2-D plane. Made up of a lattice of seven right triangles , the viewer is looking directly at one triangular face, surrounded by three other triangles with the three remaining triangles intersecting in the background.
“The Fourth of the Three” from 1963 by Richard Anuszkiewicz has only three colors of paint but the image created appears to have a much more complex palate of various intensities. The undulating grid of not quite all squares was manipulated by varying width of the red lines between the shapes. Using a mathematical plan, the lines are thin at the four sides square panel, then growing thicker, before getting thin again at the center. This creates the optical illusion of movement.
The exhibition “Playing Games: Chance, Skill, and Abstraction” at the Ricco/Maresca gallery presents antique handmade game boards along with contemporary paintings that feature the similar mathematical imagery. Before parlor games were mass-produced artisans hand painted the geometric patterns onto wood boards.
This is late 19th century American Anonymous example of a Parcheesi variation board game employs flat color shapes and rotational symmetry comparable to a 20th century abstract painting.
George Widener has created work that continues that tradition.
“Magic Squares” the mixed media work from 2016 is 16 framed rectangular sheets presented in a 4X4 arrangement. Each one features a number from 1 to 16. The magic is in the arrangement, the numbers in each row, column, and diagonal add up to 34!
The numbers each have a unique background with circles and a series of text of month stamps.
“Diagrams for the imagination” at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue features work produced by Arakawa between 1965 and 1984. Using words as well as geometric images these works function as schematic drawings for abstract themes.
“NO! Says the Volume”” from 1978, prominently displays a dodecahedron in the foreground possibly alluding to the text and title. Above the dodecahedron is a partial ring that is segmented into a black to white gradient from left to right, ending in the unexpected yellow. The use of gray scale is a way to represent a 3-D form with volume on a 2-D plane.
“Waiting Voices” from 1976-1977 is a two panel work. The left hand side has diagram of a cone within a cone and and a partial diagram of a cylinder within a cylinder. The text for this work is all positioned from the left side.
The work in this exhibition incorporates both poetry and mathematical renderings. Arakawa creates a connection between the measured accuracy of the geometric figures, imagination and emotion.
While the Armory Art Fair is definitely the largest of the March NYC exhibitions, there are a number of smaller but very interesting venues.
The Art on Paper Fairs always presents an exciting array of work created on paper.
“Shifting Center” by Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey presented by Uprise Art is a large scale drawing the viewer can actually walk into.
This drawing features a horizontal line of circles positioned to have the center point of one circle be on the circumference of the two adjacent circles. Concentric circles are drawn outward from each sometimes overlapping and sometimes obscured. The tubular structure creates the optical illusion that the circles are getting larger nearer the entrance to the space.
The NL=US Art gallery from Rotterdam in the Netherlands presented the large pencil drawings of Alexander Roozen. Hand-drawn repetitive mark making processes fill the entire surface are drawn within a mathematical grid structure. Roozen creates very detailed precise geometric renderings of topological spaces while still retaining the subtle texture of the hand work.
One of the trends that I have noticed in geometric drawings and paintings is the use of overlapping circles. There were two particularly interesting examples at the Armory Fair.
In the Galeria Nara Roesler booth, Julio L Parc’s painting “Alchimie 420” from 2018 was on display. This work offers a pointillistic representation of two half circles with concentric arcs radiating out from the top and bottom of the canvas. As the arcs get larger they overlap at the center and fall of the picture plan on either side.
The i8 gallery from Reykjavik Iceland presented Ignacio Uriarte’s 2018 ink on paper “ Eight Circles Form a Square”. Uriarte’s circles feature a textural shading technique that give them a 3 dimensional presence, but at the same time they appear somewhat transparent because you can see all parts of all 8 circles even they are over lapping. The square structure is formed by two columns of three over lapping circles and over that there is a central column of two non-overlapping circles. There are four sections where three circles and overlap.
These giant art fairs can be almost overwhelming. It is almost impossible to see everything. Buy because there is so much art in one place it is exciting to see how different artists deal with similar geometric themes.
It is March of n NYC so it is time for the giant art fairs. This year at the Armory show on Pier 94 galleries from all over the world brought an exciting assortment of work.
The Proyectosmonclova gallery from Mexico City exhibited the work of two artists whose work have Mathematical implications.
Gabriel de la Mora’s “193,200” from 2019 has two distinct mathematical themes, both geometric and numerical.The use of parallel lines with increasing frequency from top to bottom creates an electrifying pulse of geometric forms. The three rectangular horizontal rows explore the idea of positive and negative space. This work was created using 7;728 used sides from 3,864 match boxes from 193,200 burnt matches. The act of counting each of these elements expresses the intensity and detail in De la Mora’s artistic practice.
Eduardo Terrazas creates geometric forms using wool yarn on wood boards for the series “ Possibilities of a Structure” from 2018. Each of these works have an underlying stitch pattern featuring order 4 rotational symmetry and a circle inscribed within the square structure of the board. The symmetry is broken by highlighting some of the geometric forms with colored thread. Each shape possesses one curvilinear side. The concept of a non symmetrical pattern with a symmetrical framework offers a refreshing way to look at geometry.