LUNA FETE is New Orleans’ annual festival of light art and technology. One of the monumental installations this year was “Fallen Stars” presented by the design collective Raven PMG.
Each of the icosahedron star sculptures incorporate pulsing lines of lights to create ever changing 3-D drawings in the darkness.
The huge scale of the stars allow the viewer to walk through the collection of stars and be transported into the celestial theme.
More Math Art soon – Happy New Year!
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?”
“Punched Card”, Analia Saban’s solo exhibition, includes work from the artists “Tapestry” series. This series introduces two very interesting dichotomies. The patterns presented in these weavings are circuits boards that allude to the history of computers into the digital age. The title of each work references the actual technical hardware. This is juxtaposed with the process of weaving on Jacquard looms that was one of the first industrial uses of binary analog systems.
“Tapestry [1,024 Bit[1K] Dynamic RAM,1103,Intel,1970]”
For these weavings, Saban uses linen thread for the warp and strips of dried acrylic paint for the weft. This choice of materials opens the dialog about the distinctions between what has been considered fine art (painting) and craft (weaving). The first weaving you see as you walk into the gallery (above) is hung on a wall, but farther into the space there is an installation of tapestries hung from the ceiling.
“Tapestry[Computer Chip, TMS 1000, Texas Instruments, 1974]
This installation technique allows the viewer to walk around the textiles and get better understanding of the weaving process.
This series of work highlights two topics that have are currently important and intertwined in art and society today, the development of technology and the artificial hierarchies in culture.
It is the final week of August and most of the art galleries in NYC are closed so for fun I decide to write about the mathematics of Mary Blair’s artwork for the “It’s a Small World” ride at the Magic Kingdom. On a family vacation earlier this year while riding one of my favorite rides I noticed how many types of symmetry were involved in the design. I found numerous examples of rotational symmetry.
Here is a series of flowers with order 8 rotational symmetry.
These flowers have order 4 rotational symmetry because of the alternating colors .
This decoration with order 12 rotational symmetry and it actually rotates!
I hope everyone is enjoying their Summer Holidays.
Next Month I am back to the galleries.
The Gallery Photo Book Works in Beacon NY is currently featuring the exhibition “Purgatory Pie Press: 40 Years & Counting” to commemorate Dikko Faust’s and Esther K Smith’s long and fruitful history of art making and collaborations. They have worked with many artists to create limited edition letter press artist’s books, postcards, and prints. (I have worked with them for over twenty years).
Here is a gallery view. The accordion books on display are the work of Dikko Faust the founder and the printer at the press. In the past few years he has developed a series of work based on abstract geometric forms that have a lot of mathematical context. I have written about a number of his processes in past blog posts.
This is Dikko’s newest edition it is comprised of circles that are made up of a dot grid. When the red and blue circles overlap interference patterns emerge.
If you are in the Hudson Valley on August 11 stop by the gallery for the exhibition closing day, Dikko Faust and Esther K Smith in the gallery. They will be there from 1PM to 7PM:
Photo Book Works
469 Main St
Beacon, NY 12508
See you therem
One of the fun things about NYC in the late Spring and Summer is the thematic group shows at many of the galleries. If the unifying theme is of the more conceptual variety, it is often an opportunity to find Mathematical art.
At the Jankossen Contemporary Gallery the exhibition, titled “Monochrome” has Dieter Kränzlein’s white marble wall relief on display. Viewed from the front it is all about the precision of the square grid. But from the side you can see the rough surface of one face of each of the marble cubes.
More groups shows in a few days.
There were so much interesting work on display at the JMM that I wanted to explore a few more.
Tom Bates – “Six Easy Pieces” – 30 x 28 x 25 cm -Bronze – 2010
Tom Bates’ cast bronze sculpture “Six Easy Pieces” is based on one of the Chen-Gackstatter minimal surfaces. Mathematical minimal surfaces are skin-like surfaces where the area is locally as small as possible. Quite often when minimal surfaces are represented as sculpture they are shown with a smooth surface. Bate’s bronze is unpolished and rough. I really like this more organic form. It adds an unexpected hand made feel to the work.
Elizabeth Whiteley -“Euclidean Arabesque 1”
41 x 51 cm – graphite + color pencil on archival paper – 2017
One of the exciting things about returning to the JMM show over a number of years is being able to see how artists’ work changes. This year Elizabeth Whiteley is showing elegant geometric drawings. These new renderings were produced using two circles with radii in a 1:0.75 ratio and arcs measuring 180 and 270 degrees. The drawing references Euclid’s Elements Book Three: proposition 12. The series of colored lines Whiteley has used to illustrate chords on the imaginary surface brings the form to life. The shape seems to float over the surface of the paper.
In case you are wondering what I brought to the JMM this year… I had one of my new lace drawings in the exhibit. “Syncopated Hexagons” features elements created on six axis (instead of four). These elements possess order 6 rotational symmetry.
Susan Happersett – Syncopated Hexagons
35 x 11 x 4 cm – Ink on paper – 2017
The Kleinart/James Center for the Arts at the Byrdcliffe Guild in Woodstock, NY is currently presenting the exhibition “The Ritual of Construction. Curated by Jeanette Fintz, the show features work that has a foundation in geometry. Basic mathematical structures like circles, squares, and other polygons have been elevated through ritualistic repetition.
Benigna Chilla, “Crescents” 2013, Vegetable pigments and acrylic on canvas
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
This large unstretched canvas by Benigna Chilla features a grid of circles segmented into squares and rectangles through the use of subtle coloration. An overlying pattern of six crescents incorporate a reflective symmetry. Chilla’s banner-like paintings have the spirit of devotional and meditative mandalas.
Stephen Westfall, “Live for Tomorrow”, 2010, oil and alkyd on canvas
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Stephen Westfall’s painting “Live for Tomorrow” is a colorful feast of reflective symmetry. The hard edge bands cutting diagonally across the four rectangles form a central square. Part of the interior section of the painting features order-4 rotational symmetry, but Westfall’s use of rectangles does not allow this to carry through the entire structure of the work, creating a kinetic pulse of color. I should probably mention that Stephen Westfall was my professor of Art Theory when I was in graduate school and I have always admired his work.
Laura Battle “Prism” 2016, Graphite on gray Arches paper
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Laura Battle “Prism” 2016, Graphite on gray Arches paper (Detail)
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery
Through the use of an astonishingly detailed repetitive accumulation of straight lines and concentric circles, Laura Battle creates “Prism”. From a distance, the subject of the drawing appears to be the central parallelogram that strategically touches all four edges of the drawing. Upon closer inspection it becomes apparent the real theme is the relationship between the two types of lines straight and curvi-linear lines. The intense process necessary for creating such an intense drawing definitely highlights the ritual aspects of the entire exhibition,
I am always happy to see an art show with a geometric intention. This diverse presentation goes a step further and asks us to go beyond the mathematical logic and think about geometry as a spiritual experience.
Lygia Pape “A Multitude of Forms” currently on display at the MET Breuer is the first US museum retrospective for the Brazilian artist. A member of both the Grupo Frente and the Neoconcrete movement, both with emphasis on abstraction and geometry during the 1950’s and 1960’s. She continued to work while under dictatorship (1964-1985) broadening her creative practice to include film, performance, poetry and installations.
One of the most impressive works in the exhibition is “Livro du tempo” (“Book of Time’, 1961-1963) which consists of 365 wall sculptures, to represent 365 days in a year. Each of the forms is a variation on a square.
The squares have each had at least one section cut away, recolored and placed back on top of the square.
In the top example an L shaped corner has been cut away from the red square painted white then arranged so that the corner of the section meets the new corner of the red figure. In the bottom example the yellow square has had a smaller square (with sides 1/3 the length of the original) removed from the center of the top edge. Painted white and rotatated 45 degrees the new square is placed centered under the void.
The individual sculptural elements can be more complex with multiple identical cut-aways. The myriad of possibilities explored by Pape is what makes this work monumental. Created during the time of the Concrete movement “Livro du tempo”, this work included an element of viewer interaction: viewers (back then) were allowed to touch the work. By including 365 elements the artist references the time it take for the earth’s rotation, tying the abstract geometry to the natural world.
The MET Breuer has presented a large comprehensive display of Pape’s art. I have only really talked about one work of art, there is so much more to discuss. Anyone in NYC this Spring should definitely plan to go to the museum.
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.