Beauty at the Cooper Hewitt

The fifth installation of “Beauty- Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” is survey of aesthetics in contemporary design. On display are a number of objects with mathematical connections.

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Jenny Sabin 2015-2016

Jenny Sabin’s knitted architectural is based on Mathematics in nature and was commissioned specifically for this show. It was digitally knit using photoluminescent and solar active yarns creating a glowing environment of geometric webs.

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Daniel Brown -“On Growth and Form” 2- Video – 2013

Daniel Brown’s six minute video shows the formation of a series of mathematically generated flowers. These blossoms have been created through the process of coding algorithms to digitally render an idealized image of nature. The resulting video has an eery, overly perfect, super realistic quality, an aesthetic contrast from actual flowers.

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Michael Anastassiades – “Miracle Chips” – Marble – 2013

 

Michael Anastassiades’ white marble “Miracle Chips” are circular discs that seem to have been bent into concave surfaces. The sculpture presents a series of discs with increasing concavity. The smoothness of the curves leads the viewer to imagine it is possible to take  flat discs of marble and gently fold them into these elegant forms.

Mathematics was an important theme of the “Beauty” exhibition at the Copper Hewitt and the supporting text of the wall signage was clear in attributing the inspiration and use of mathematics by the artists and designers.

Susan Happersett

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Fibonacci on Mulberry Street

Walking down Mulberry street I spotted this great sign in front of The Picture Room McNally Jackson Store.

16-24-01The sign is the work of Benjamin Critton. It features a series of squares whose sides increase based on the Fibonacci Sequence. The first two squares are the same size. The third square has sides twice the side of the first. The fourth has sides three times as long as the first. This continues until the 7th square has sides 13 times longer than the first. They all are spiraled into a neat Fibonacci rectangle with sides in an 8:13 ratio.

Susan Happersett

Doreen McCarthy – More Topologist’s Pool Toys at LMAK Gallery

A quick update on a post from last Summer.

16-23-1I was thrilled when I looked into the garden of the c and saw a whole collection of Doreen McCarthy’s wonderful sculptures. I think they are even more fun and unexpected outside. The shadows on the pavement provide a changing 2-D projection of the 3-D forms.
They will be up until September 25th so there is plenty of time to go to the Lower East side and enjoy this playful  installation.

Susan Happersett

Gerard Mullin at Kristen Lorello

The Kristen Lorello Gallery in New York is currently presenting a solo exhibition of Gerard Mullin’s painted and carved wood reliefs. The artist begins by painting abstract images with watercolor, wood dye, and acrylic on sheets of plywood. Then starting at one edge he carves a row of a single type of geometric shape.

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Gerard Mullin – Untitled – 2013
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

In this first example the first carving is the bottom row of Isosceles triangles. Carving by hand – without a template – the rows of triangles fluctuate in size creating a sense of motion.

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Gerard Mullin – Untitled – 2013 (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The carved sections of the work are then painted white. This accentuates the 3-D aspects of the work allowing a clean surface to display the shadows from the carving. The brightness of the white paint in the recesses of the work contrasting with darker surface painting creates an interesting switch in positive and negative space.

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Gerard Mullin – Untitled – 2013
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

This second work work began with a row of  equilateral triangles across the bottom, but then developed into rows of double triangles positioned base to base to form a diamond pattern.

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Gerard Mullin – Untitled – 2013 (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Looking at the work from a side angle, the diamonds are concave 4-sided pyramid indentations. The  nature of Mullin’s carving technique creates a type of off-kilter grid. This is an unexpected quality for the exploration of gridded geometric spaces. The initial abstract painting also adds a dimension to the work, taking it another direction from hard edge and minimalist interpretations of geometry. Mullin offers his viewers a chance to look at familiar shapes within a new, freer, and less formal structure.

Susan Happersett

Infinity at the MET Breuer

This Spring the Metropolitan Museum of Art expanded its exhibition space into what used to be the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue and is now called the “MET Breuer”. “Unfinished, Thoughts Left Visible” is one of the two of the inaugural shows. “Unfinished” features art which was never fully completed either by determination of the artist or by chance. On the forth floor of the museum there is a gallery with more abstract work that deals with the concept of infinity. The nature of the infinite creates a continuum in the work, thus alluding completion.

One of best visual interpretations that I have seen of Zeno’s Arrow Paradox is in the form animated video. “La Flecha de Zenon” by Jorge Macchi and David Oubina begins the way many movies begin, with a count down of numerals from ten to one, but, when you think some other action will start after one, the numbers are divided in two and expressed as a decimal. As the numbers get smaller and smaller the length of the decimal gets longer and longer until the digits get so small they seem to disappear. We are left to believe they go on forever and zero is unattainable.

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Another artist in the exhibition that has a relationship with infinity is Roman Opalka. Beginning in 1965, he began a series of paintings on which he started to paint the numbers up to infinity. Each set of digits is hand painted in white on a grey background. The artist completed 233 canvases but of course never completed the project.

16-21-03These examples highlight the way numbers can be used as a tool to express themes of time and infinity and their effects on the human condition.

Susan Happersett

 

Pictures courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.