Lygia Clark at MOMA

The Museum of Modern Art in NYC is currently hosting a huge retrospective of the work of Lygia Clark (1920-1988). Clark was a member of the Brazilian Constructivist movement. The walls of the first few rooms of the exhibition display the artist’s geometric abstract paintings.  On platforms in the center of the gallery, an assortment of  her hinged metal sculptures are on display. It is these sculptures I would like to discuss. There are a number of excellent reviews of the show online – the Brooklyn Rail is an example – but I would like to focus on the sculptures. Clark created these sculptures so that viewers could manipulate the shapes, creating different
forms, becoming part of the artistic process. At the MOMA show work tables are set up throughout the galleries with reproductions of the sculptures available for the public to participate. Photography is forbidden in these galleries so I decided to reproduce one of Clarks’s more simplistic forms using paperboard and tape and taking photos of my model.

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Here is the construction process, in case you want to make one. You will need seven congruent isosceles right triangles.
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Lay out four triangle to form a square and make three hinges leaving two triangles attached on only one side.

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Take a fifth triangle and attache it to one those single attachment triangles so it is on top of the other triangle with one attachment .

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Add the sixth triangle to the fifth so they form a parallelogram.

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Turn the structure over and attach the seventh triangle to the fourth triangle from the original square so you have like a trapezoid. Now you can stand up the structure in many positions.
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— Susan Happersett

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Off the Wall in Chelsea

I discovered a very interesting trend at the Chelsea galleries this week. I found three different exhibitions where an artist presented drawings, paintings, or sculptures, but also built an installation work that protrudes off of a gallery wall.

Robert Curry at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery  had a collection of Robert Currie’s perspex cases with monofilament line 3-D drawings.

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9,772 inches of Black and Red Monofilament (2013)
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In the sculpture “9,772 Inches of Black and Red Monofilament”,  Currie uses a series of threads hand-strung in grids to form angled wedges of red and black that intersect at the center, forming an area of at what – at first – looks like disorder. Upon closer inspection the consistency of the patterns becomes clear. This work has a number of mathematical connections: The careful measurement of the monofilament is a defining factor in the title for this work. Currie uses a series of grid patterns to thread the work. There are intricate geometric shapes created within the cases. The finally mathematical connection is his allusion to Chaos Theory, where there is underlying order in what at first appears to be disorder.

At the entrance and in the hall of the gallery, Currie has installed a site-specific thread drawing based on the architecture of the room “12 miles 1647 yards of Black Filament”. This work explores the gallery space using repetitive straight lines.

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12 miles 1647 yards of Black Filament
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Mark Hagen at Marlborough Chelsey Gallery

At the Marlborough Chelsea Gallery, Mark Hagen has created an aluminum and stainless steel space frame installation named “To Be Titled Ramada Chelsea #3”,  that climbs in front of his “To Be Titled Gradient Painting #35”. This geometric construction features cube formations meeting at star formations formed by 12 line segments radiating out from a central point.

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“To Be Titled Ramada Chelsea #3″in front of “To Be Titled Gradient Painting #35”
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Ryan Roa at Robert Miller Gallery

The Robert Miller Gallery is presenting a group show titled “Six Features”.  One of the artists, Ryan Roa, is exhibiting drawings that relate to fractions and geometry. In the same room he has created site-responsive installation that create a sense of movement within the space.

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Site-specific installation
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In his drawing “12X12 series #01”,  Roa has drawn a multitude of equal line segments radiating out from two opposite corners of the square, creating two equal quarter circles that overlap along the diagonal.

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12X12 series #01
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In “12X12 series #02”, the artist uses the same technique of drawing equal line segments, but in this case they radiate out from the two left corners of the squares. The circles overlap to form a pointed dome shape.  The right square is not completely filled in with lines: it  retains the curves of the circle segments.

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12X12 series #02
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

It is fascinating to me how Roa has been able to create two drawings with such different proportion shapes and energy using basically the same technique by only changing one parameter.

It is amazing that within the course of an afternoon walking only a few blocks I was able visit three installations of Mathematical constructions by artists with very different practices and techniques. By expanding their formats off the gallery walls, each artist has created an exciting space to engage with the measures, proportions, and geometries that make up their work.

Susan Happersett

Math Trends at the Whitney Biennial

The Whitney Biennial exhibition closed last week, but for those of you unable to visit the museum I wanted to briefly discuss a few examples of work with Mathematical implications.

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Terry Adkins’ large wall installation “Aviarium” from 2014 was assembled using repurposed stacked cymbals. Adkins was a musician and the sizes of the cymbals were determined by the mathematics of bird songs. The horizontal columns of circles protruding from the gallery wall become a physical manifestation of sound.

Suzanne McClelland

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In her diptych “Ideal Proportions” 2013, Suzanne McClelland explores the psychological and social implications of our relationship to numbers. McClelland’s expressive renderings of groups of Arabic numerals reveal the anxiety and judgement associated with numbers that refer to the weights and measures of the human body.

Shio Kusaba

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Ceramicist Shio Kusaba has created a series of vessels featuring striking pattern work. I am particularly interested in her pieces that have grid patterns. The use of linear rectangular grids on the organ forms create a subtle juxtaposition between the curved surfaces and the lines. I find the spaces  where the gridded sections meet in triangles fascinating. The concept of lines on curves is an area of geometry ripe for artistic exploration.

The Whitney Biennial always received a lot of attention and press. Now that the excitement and fan fare have concluded I wanted to offer some personal observations.