The Journal of Mathematics and the Arts has announced an upcoming special issue devoted to artist’s statements. I will be editing this issue as a guest editor.
A lot of artists are not familiar with the concept of Math Art and I am often asked what is Math Art? Here is my definition: In order to be considered Math Art, art work must meet one or more of these three criteria:
(1) The work is created using mathematics,
(2) it presents mathematical themes,or
(3) it is expressing the effects of mathematics on society.
Any artist who makes work that falls into any of these classifications are encouraged to submit their statement for publication. You can find the submission guidelines here
While the Armory Art Fair is definitely the largest of the March NYC exhibitions, there are a number of smaller but very interesting venues.
The Art on Paper Fairs always presents an exciting array of work created on paper.
“Shifting Center” by Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey presented by Uprise Art is a large scale drawing the viewer can actually walk into.
This drawing features a horizontal line of circles positioned to have the center point of one circle be on the circumference of the two adjacent circles. Concentric circles are drawn outward from each sometimes overlapping and sometimes obscured. The tubular structure creates the optical illusion that the circles are getting larger nearer the entrance to the space.
The NL=US Art gallery from Rotterdam in the Netherlands presented the large pencil drawings of Alexander Roozen. Hand-drawn repetitive mark making processes fill the entire surface are drawn within a mathematical grid structure. Roozen creates very detailed precise geometric renderings of topological spaces while still retaining the subtle texture of the hand work.
One of the trends that I have noticed in geometric drawings and paintings is the use of overlapping circles. There were two particularly interesting examples at the Armory Fair.
In the Galeria Nara Roesler booth, Julio L Parc’s painting “Alchimie 420” from 2018 was on display. This work offers a pointillistic representation of two half circles with concentric arcs radiating out from the top and bottom of the canvas. As the arcs get larger they overlap at the center and fall of the picture plan on either side.
The i8 gallery from Reykjavik Iceland presented Ignacio Uriarte’s 2018 ink on paper “ Eight Circles Form a Square”. Uriarte’s circles feature a textural shading technique that give them a 3 dimensional presence, but at the same time they appear somewhat transparent because you can see all parts of all 8 circles even they are over lapping. The square structure is formed by two columns of three over lapping circles and over that there is a central column of two non-overlapping circles. There are four sections where three circles and overlap.
These giant art fairs can be almost overwhelming. It is almost impossible to see everything. Buy because there is so much art in one place it is exciting to see how different artists deal with similar geometric themes.
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