More Art from the JMM 2020 Denver Exhibition

There were so much interesting work at the JMM Art Exhibition that I needed to write a second blog post.

Amanda Owens’ “Links” is painted on a wood panel with the grain and an underlying drawn grid exposed. The structure of the geometric pattern features repetitive tessellation. What makes this painting unique is the use of a hombre technique for the blue squares,changing gradually from light blue on the top row to the dark blue on the bottom row. This alters the expected symmetries.


“A Unit Domino” a print by Doug McKenna explores symmetry vs asymmetry. We expect the two points of the triangles to line up along a vertical axis but the are both off center. The mathematics behind this bold pattern is quite complex. This space filling curve was developed using a pair of double spirals and a half-million line segments. McKenna has also published an electronic, interactive,illustrated app/eBook that allows the viewer to explore his intense and beautiful patterns.”Hilbert Curves: Outside -In and Inside-Gone” is available at Apple’s App store.

Susan Happersett

The JMM Art Exhibition, Denver

This January the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meeting was held in Denver, Colorado. Every year the Art Exhibition at the Convention seems to get better and better.

I will present a small sampling of the work on display.
Anne Ligon Harding and Clayton Shonkwiler created this lino cut print featuring trefoil knots. The knots both have 3 fold rotational symmetry. The use of parallel lines gives the illusion of under and over in 3-D space.By flipping the prospective 180 degrees the viewer can see the trefoils from different angles. Having one knot on a white background and the other on a black background juxtaposes positive and negative space.

James Stasiak used the process of digital photo improvisation to create this print on metal. According to Stasiak a photograph of railroad tracks was manipulated using “tessellations and polar projections” to the form this striking image.

Susan Happersett

Charmion Von Wiegand at the Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

The Newark Museum has recently reinstalled their collection of American Art. Titled “Seeing America” this exhibition a selection of mid-century modern abstract paintings all with new updated signage. I was so happy to see Charmion Von Wiegand’s painting “The Sign of Keeping Still from 1953”.


Von Wiengand was a friend of Piet Mondrian. This work was influenced by that friendship, but also includes a reference to Mathematics.

The Newark Museum acknowledged this connection with an explanation of the logarithmic spiral. Including mathematical references in art museums is a great curatorial development.

Susan Happersett

“Making Marvels” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum’s current exhibition “Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the courts of Europe” presents an amazing selection of treasures that reflect the cutting edge technology from 1550-1750. Just like today, back then, owning the newest tech most expensive gadgets was a sign of wealth and power. This concept was magnified in the 16th-18th centuries with the royal courts demanding the finest materials and the most gifted artisans to produce these tools and scientific renderings.

This 16th century instrument of the “Primum Mobile” created by Ignazio Dante using design by Petrus Apianus is the only one in existence. Named for the outer sphere in the incorrect geocentric model of the universe it was actually made as a tool for trigonometry to calculate sines and cosines.


King Henry II of France owned this Encryption Device made in 1550. Instead of using a fixed alphabetic translation this mechanism could use a series of separate transformations.


Geometry was a part of a royal education. The Platonic Solids were a popular subject. This German Writing and Reading Box from 1570 features perspective drawings created using inlays of wood, ivory and mother of pearl.


Wenzel Jamnitzer was renowned for his expertise in geometric prospective drawings. His 1568 book “Perspectiva Corporum Regularium” features his exquisite 2 dimensional representations of 3-D geometric models.

Susan Happersett

“Home Is A Foreign Place” at the MET Brauer

The Met Brauer is currently featuring work recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This section of Modern and Contemporary Art is from Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. Shown along side work that has been in the collection for a longer time this exhibit shows how work from various parts of the globe have commonalities. Divided into thematic sections, two sections “Spatial Reiterations” and “Marks and Measures” present Mathematical content.

Kasuko Miyamoto’s “UNTITLED” installation conceived in 1977 uses string and nails to create a 3-D line drawing that maps two lines of points on the ground to grids on the wall.

In the section titled “Spatial Reiterations” This work explores the juxtaposition of line versus plane by mapping many points on the wall to each point on the floor.

Mark Bradford’s “Crack Between the Floorboards” from 2014 is located in the section titled “Marks and Measures”. Created using paper, paint and tape on canvas this work explores the patterns found within our living spaces. Featuring a strong diagonal line the square is divided with horizontal and vertical sets of parallel lines.

Susan Happersett

Alexander Calder at Pace Gallery

The art of constructing mobiles is a mathematical exercise. Creating a well balanced suspended sculpture requires the artist to calculate the appropriate distances for each of the weighted elements. “Calder Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere” is the inaugural exhibition at Pace’s new palatial gallery in Chelsea.

This “Untitled” Mobile from 1932 features four white spheres of various sizes and one tiny red sphere. The spheres are attached to ends of suspended rods.

For this Untitled Mobile from 1934 Calder seems to create an almost impossible equilibrium. The top rod has a single solid form suspended on the left and a second rod suspended on the right. From the second rod there two more suspended forms.

Susan Happersett

Richard Serra at Gagosian Chelsea

Richard Serra’s installation “Forged Rounds” is on display at Gagosian’s Chelsea location. I have always been a fan of Serra’s large scale work. Walking among the geometric architecture of his sculpture takes me to an otherworldly place. The juxtaposition of the pure shapes with the texture of the rusted metal becomes a form of meditation. “Forged Rounds” consists of three galleries inhabited with huge solid steel cylinders.

The heights of the cylinders and the dimensions of the circular bases are variable, offering a changing view throughout the space.

The monumental presence of each of these cylinders become solitary entities that interact with the other cylinders in the room.

Susan Happersett

Deborah Zlotsky at Kathryn Markel

Kathryn Markel gallery is currently featuring the “Now and later” , Deborah Zlotsky’s solo exhibition. The show features painting as well as tapestries made from vintage scarves. The textile work elevates the geometric patterns of these design into Art to be hung on a wall.

“For Sure 100%” from 2019 explores the use of squares, diagonals and right angles in 20th century design.

“A peculiar influence, subduing them into receptiveness”, 2019 draws its strength from the vertical parallel lines of the long rectangular scarf.

What I really like about these tapestries is they are highlighting geometry we see around us every day.

Susan Happersett

Anni Albers at David Zwirner

Brenda Danilowitz has curated the wonderful Anni Albers exhibition at David Zwirner’s West 20th street gallery. Albers is one the preeminent fiber artist of the 20th century. There are s number of her weaving masterworks on display. What I found special about this show was the works on paper. There was one large room devoted to gouache color studies, drawings and prints.

Some of the pieces from the 1970’s really caught my eye.

In each of these three works Albers has used a grid of squares. The squares have been split in half diagonally. The resulting isosceles right triangles have been colored in contrast to the other half.

“Color Study (Blue and Reds)” is a gouache and diazotype on paper from 1970.


“Study for Second Movement III” graphite on paper, 1970

“Second Movement III” two color copper plate etching, 1978

Susan Happersett

Yoko Ono at the Everson Museumof Art in Syracuse, NY

The Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse New York is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year. To celebrate they have are presenting great exhibitions. “Yoko Ono, Remembering the Future” is currently on display. Yoko Ono had her first solo museum show at the Everson in 1971. A conceptual artist, Ono’s work is often a set of rules or steps that can be carried out by other people in various settings. Some of the work includes Mathematical instructions. The construction “Morning Beams”(1997:2019) falls into this category.

The artist’s text that gives the parameters for installation is posted on gallery wall: “One hundred nylon robes emanating from a single source in the ceiling, suspended from top to bottom, anchored in concentric circles with metal plates”

Ono has incorporated both counting and geometry into to her expression of the phenomenon of sun beams.

Susan Happersett