Holger Hadrich – by Sarah Stengle

Holger Hadrich makes complex, collapsible geometric structures out of steel wire, and then photographs them in a way that dissolves the pure determination of the geometry into a feeling of a fleeting memory. The context chosen is often an ordinary place that implies motion, or transition. Sidewalks, asphalt and rivers recur with the superimposition of a delicate geometric structure.

17-08-01These objects rarely obscure their backdrop but rather hover like an apparition. One can see right through them, as one could see through a ghost. In his hands, the timeless geometry of the Archimedean solids are presented as movable objects that we pass by in a fleeting world. The context for his creations underscore the idea of passage and form a sequence of ordinary by-ways transformed by an ongoing internal conversation with mathematical form.

17-08-02The objects themselves are based on polyhedra, which are usually conceived of as solid. In his hands, however, they are rendered flexible and collapsible. Their web-like delicacy show precision and immense patience. One can almost imagine the object being turned in hand as careful attention is paid to the vertices. In many cases they are punctuated by small brass washers or carefully formed loops, which form a secured but collapsible hub. A different aspect of the work is made apparent when the objects are held in the hands. They are designed to be collapsible. Many are collapsible along more than one axis. To understand the collapsibility of his constructs it is best to handle them or see them in motion. His video Medusa Tower below shows one of his structures expanding from a depth of about three inches to nearly five meters.

Art historians from Vasari to Wöfflin have debated the supremacy of linear versus painter pictorial devices in art.  These works are both simultaneously linear and painterly (malerisch). The absolute clarity of the mathematic constructs is intentionally obscured to become integral to the partially dissolved, or transient clarity of the object as photographed.  These linear forms become painterly through Hadrich’s lens. The geometric forms are pulled out of the originating mathematical abstractions and into our ordinary life, where they seem to hover on the brink of collapsing and disappearing.

17-08-03To quote Wölfflin: “Composition, light and color no longer merely serve to define the form, but have their own life absolute clarity has been partly abandoned to enhance the effect.” The resolutely normal sidewalks and fragments of asphalt are also transformed when viewed through the orderly but complex web of geometric construction of wire. One immediately intuits a precise order that stands against our own transience and feels patient, quiet and timeless.
You can find more about Hadrich’s work on his Facebook page.

This is Sarah Stengle’s first contribution to this blog. Sarah is an artist and writer based in St Paul, Minnesota.

College Art Association Conference Math Art Lecture

This Saturday, February 18 at 12 Noon EST, I will be speaking about mathematical art at the CAA’s annual conference at the Hilton Midtown in New York. I will be focusing on the works I have made in collaboration with Purgatory Pie press, which will be on display (and for sale).

College Art Association Conference
Hilton Hotel, 1335 6th Ave) at 53rd St
Second Floor – Rhinelander Gallery – Table 219

Susan Happersett

Picturing Math at the MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is current exhibiting a show titled “Picturing Math: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints”. The  exhibit features work from the 15th to the 21st Century. It presents  a cornucopia of beautiful work, and it was very difficult for me to choose just a few to discuss in this blog. Some of the most historically significant work was in the form of books that were opened to show prints.


This first image is a page from Durer’s “Treatise on Measurement” from 1525.  This particular print Is “Construction of a Spiral Line”. Although the aesthetic significance of this work is undeniable, it is a technical diagram complete with measurements.

This next page is “Dodecahedron and Variants”, from “Perspectiva corporum regularium” (Perspective of Regular Bodies). This is a 1568 treatise by Jost Amman based on the work of Wenzel Jamnitzer.  This work offers a progression of depictions of increasingly complex 3-D solids. Both of these books were created for the purpose of visualizing Mathematics as an expository tool, but because they are such gorgeous images they also highlight the beauty of the Mathematics.


This exhibition also include contemporary art. A great example is Mel Bochner’s 1991 lithographs in the series “Counting Alternatives: The Wittgenstein Illustrations”. This particular print is titled “Eight Branch”. Referencing Bochner’s drawings from the 1970’s, this 1991 portfolio relates to the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and his ideas about certainty. The print features two different lines of counting series, both starting with 0 in the top left corner. One line of digits goes horizontally across to the top right corner with 23 and the other goes diagonally across the page to the lower right corner with 33. Both routes end in the bottom left corner with 54.

Unlike the historical texts Bochner’s work is not about presenting mathematical principles to educate. Instead, he is using mathematics to express ideas. This is truly an excellent exhibit it will be up through April and I suggest that if you are in NYC, go see for yourself.

Susan Happersett

Roy Colmer at Lisson Gallery

Although Roy Colmer was well known for his photographic work, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s he produced a series of paintings on canvas. Currently on display at Lisson Gallery, this work was created by using tape to make bright horizontal bands of color, that where then painted over using a spray gun.


Roy Colmer, “Untitled #57”, 1970
Picture courtesy of Lisson Gallery

The practice of spraying a mist of paint applied a gradient of opacities over the hard-edge parallel lines. The resulting optical quality of the work relates to Colmer’s use of – what he referred to as –  “feedback” in his film and video work. These techniques seem to bend and distort the canvas plane altering the nature of the parallel line.


Roy Colmer, “Untitled #133”, 1971
Picture courtesy of Lisson Gallery

Susan Happersett

James Siena at Pace

James Siena artistic practice incorporates the use of rules to create art. I have written about his type writer work, as well as his sculptures, in earlier posts. Obviously I am a fan, and I was very excited to be able to see some of his recent drawings at the Pace Gallery on 24th st. This exhibition features work from three different series; “Manifolds,”, “Wanderers” , and “Nihilism”. All of the drawings are hand-drawn, geometric studies but the the series I feel that  has the most Mathematical implications is “Manifolds”.
James Siena Manifold X, 2015 No. 61220 Format of original photography: digital Photographer: Tom Barratt

James Siena
Manifold X, 2015
No. 61220
Format of original photography: digital
Photographer: Tom Barratt

“Manifold X” from 2015 addresses the artist’s interest in the field of Topology. Topology studies the properties of surfaces allowing them to change through the manipulations of bending growing and shrinking without being cut or broken or having attachments added. In “Manifold X” the orange, yellow and blue surfaces are homeomorphic, they each have nine holes within their shapes . The green surface is different because it ha sixteen holes. The four surface are woven together but each individual shape does not intersect itself.  Siena has managed to take a fairly complex field in mathematics and develop a system of rules to create work that aesthetically beautiful and also expresses his affinity for the subject matter from which it is derived.
Susan Happersett