The Guggenheim museum is presenting the first major solo US exhibition of the groundbreaking work of Hilma af Klint, titled “Paintings of the Future”. Although created in the early part of 20th century, this work remained virtually unrecognized until 1986. These paintings made between 1906 and 1915 are now considered paradigm changing so the first non representational totally abstract work of the Western world. The artist felt her art was too radical for her contemporaries so she did to want them shown until twenty years after her death.
Although her art was based and generated by af Klint’s spiritual practice, the paintings depict geometric phenomenon.
This large painting is “No.17 Group IX/SUW, The Swan ” from 1915. It shows a circle bifurcated through the vertical center line. The left hand side consists of two layers an outer white layer and an inner black core. The right hand side in contrast has three concentric layers of bright colors.
This concentric theme has been examined many artists years later.
“No 22 Group IX /SUW, The Swan” also from 1915, examines the concept of a cube projected on the 2-D plane. Dividing the square canvas with guide lines one through the center vertically, and two horizontal lines. These horizontal lines are located a distance away from the top and bottom of the canvas of 1/4 of the length of each side. This configuration creates two squares in the center of the work to build the isosceles triangles and rhombi to create the illusion of the cube and it’s interior space.
This exhibition is really a major development in the art world. The well deserved recognition of Hilda af Klint is finally receiving, requires art history to make adjustments to both it’s time line and credit for the development of abstract painting. As someone interested in abstract geometric paintings for a long time, as I walked up the spirals of the Guggenheim Museum I kept thinking about these painting that I was seeing for the first time, “where have you been all of my life?”
The exhibition “Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, !965-2018” currently on display at the Whitney Museum offers a broad sample of Art created using rules and computation. Including both early examples as well as more contemporary work this show highlights the progression of algorithmic art. Sol Lewitt was a pioneer of this type of conceptually generated work.
Lewitt’s wall drawing “4th wall 24 lines from the center, 12 lines from the midpoint of each of the sides, 12 lines from each corner” from “Wall Drawing #289”, 1976 is featured prominently in the first gallery. On display in the same room are Casey Reas’ video installations “(Software) Structure #003 A” and “(Software) Structure #003 B”.
Here is a still shot.
These videos are in direct response to the work of Sol Lewitt. Like Lewitt’s wall drawings Reas begins the process for each video with a verbal description but then generates the images using computer programming.
Cheyney Thompson uses the Drunken Walk Algorithm to facilitate the building of concrete sculptures.
“Broken Volumes (10L)” 2013 was constructed using one-inch concrete cubes, the placement of each successive cube is decided by the Drunken or Random Walk Algorithm. Each sculpture in the series is comprised of 10 Liters of cubes. The random nature of the decision making process for each permutation does not take into account the structural integrity of the sculpture. Some of the pieces break because sections become too heavy. The contrast between the rigid nature of rule based processes and the physical limits of the materials offers insight into the dichotomies of technology and physicality.
“Terraform” is Daniel Lefcourt’s current solo exhibition of new paintings at the Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in Chelsea. Lefcourt has painted a series of abstract aerial landscapes. Created using algorithmic processes, they reference scientific, industrial and military imaging.
The painting “Terraform (Soundings)” from 2018 was generated by first staining the canvas and then tracing and diagramming stains. These overview maps of fictional landscapes utilize rule based systems and offer commentary on power of technological surveillance.