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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Perrotin is featuring the work of Leslie Hewitt in a solo exhibition titled “Reading Room” at their gallery on the Lower East side of Manhattan. The show includes a wide range of media, photography and sculpture. It is the sheer metal, white powder coated “Untitled” floor installations from 2019 that offer the clearest geometric inspirations.
Each work consists of a flat rectangular plane that has a few linear folds. At these folds a section of the plane is bent at a 90 degree angle.
Each of the sculptures has at least one corner fold that forms an isosceles triangle with 45-90-45 degree angles that is perpendicular to the floor.
Here is an example with one corner fold and one fold that creates a rectangle also perpendicular to the floor.
This work has a isosceles triangle corner fold, a rectangular fold, then a third fold on the corner of the raised rectangular creating another Isosceles triangle.
The use of the flat white surface allows the viewer to concentrate on the folds and the resulting clean lines and shadows.
The Metropolitan Museum in NYC is currently presenting “Apollo’s Muse The Moon in the Age of Photography”. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the TV broadcast of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission this exhibition early photographs as well as prints books and ephemera.
This is a page from Charles F Blunt’s 1942 book “The Moon’s Phases ,in Lectures on Astronomy;Beauty of the Heavens; a Pictorial Display of the Astronomical Phenomena of the Universe”.In the center of the diagram Blunt has placed a circle representing the moon divided into two sections. Encircling this moon are two concentric rings of twelve circles
For me one of the most impressive displays was the 19th century astronomical photography. All 71 plates of Maurice Loewy and Pierre Puiseux’s “Photographic Atlas of the Moon”. Here is one wall of the installation.
The multitude of perspectives on the same spherical orb is an elegant exploration of it’s geometry.