Jean-Luc Moulène at Miguel Abreu Gallery

The Miguel Abreu Gallery is currently presenting a group show titled “Mostly Early Works by Gallery Artists”. One of the works o display is an onyx sculpture from 2015 by Jean-Luc Moulène titled “Sample (Onyx)”
The sculpture is composed of five rounded cones. Two pointed in opposite directions to form an axis. The remaining three are jutting out perpendicularly to the axis.
The three cones around the axis are positioned at 120 degree intervals to create order 3 rotational symmetry. This symmetry is visible when  the work is viewed at a looking straight at the points of the axis.
Susan Happersett

Bridges Conference Stockholm, Sweden (Part 1)

This year the annual Bridges Math Art conference was held in Stockholm Sweden. Along with a busy program of lectures and workshops, the art exhibit is always a highlight of the event. There was so much interesting work on display that is hard to select just a few to write about in the blog. I encourage everyone to take a look at the on line gallery available on the Bridges website.
Martin Levin’s brass and aluminum sculture “Altogether II” was particularly fascinating to me because it includes all five of the platonic solids. By using thin rods as lines in 3-D space, Levin outlined the figures so you can see the shapes stacked inside each other. Platonic solids are comprised of faces that are regular polygons and at each vertex there are an equal number of faces meeting. The five Platonic are: Tetrahedrons with 3 equilateral triangular faces at each vertex, Cubes with 3 square faces at each vertex, Octahedrons with 4 equilateral triangle faces at each vertex, Dodecahedrons with 3 pentagons at each vertex and, Icosahedrons with 5 equilateral triangles meeting at each vertex. In Levin’s structure the shapes with triangular faces all share a common face plane, and the solids that have three shapes meeting at the vertices share common vertices.
“Triboid” is a resin sculpture by Alfred Peris that is a ruled surface, which means that on any point of the surface there is a straight line that lies on the curved surface. Peris generates these curved surfaces by taking a 2-D curve with no end points and then projects it into paraboloid of revolution to get a 3-D curve. The resulting sculpture has an elegant organic floral presence.
Susan Happersett

Charles Ginnever at Storm King

Storm King Arts Center is a world-renowned sculpture park located about a hour North of Manhattan near the Hudson River. The permanent collection of the park features a number of works with Mathematical themes. Charles Ginnever’s steel sculpture “Prospect Mountain Project ( For David Smith)” from 1979 is an excellent example.
The work is comprised of a giant parallelogram that has been sliced diagonally into three parallel strips that are also parallelograms. Each strip has been folded twice at vertical creases. They are connected at two points along the lines of the folds.
The two side sections have the steel bending forward and the center parallelogram has the folds towards the back. This not only gives the flat plane of the metal sheet a 3-dimensional presence, but it also allows the sculpture to stand securely directly on the ground. The weathered organic texture of the steel contrasts with the hard edges of the geometry. The sculpture complements the natural surroundings of the park.
Susan Happersett

Ricardo Cardenas at De Buck Gallery

The exhibition “Abstractions of Nature” at De Buck Gallery features Cardenas’ sculptures and wall installations. Created using a multitude of small, painted, stainless steel wires these works remind me of the practice of cross hatching, used when drawing. In a drawing an artist would use short almost straight lines to built a gradient of lines from light to to dark to form the illusion of depth and shadow. This would give a 2-D drawing the illusion of 3-D space.
Here is gallery view of “Yellow Nest” and “White Nest” both from 2018. Cardenas has built curved surfaces in 3-D space using only small lines of stainless steel.
This close up view of “Yellow Nest”  shows the intricate architecture  within each sculpture. Inspired by nature and educated as a civil engineer, Cardenas presents elegant constructions with  biomorphic sensibilities.
Susan Happersett

More Art from JMM – San Diego

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

Susan Happersett

Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner Gallery

Ruth Asawa studied at the Mountain College, and in the late 1940’s began making crocheted wire sculptures. This solo exhibition at at David Zwirner features a large collection of these hanging forms.

Almost all of the structures feature a vertical line of symmetry. No matter your vantage point in the gallery the reflective symmetry is visible.

This sculpture is referred to in the catalog as “Untitled, 1954, Hanging, Seven-lobed Continuous, Interwoven Form, with Spheres with in Two Lobes”. It shows another element of Asawa’s work: the interior and exterior forms change positions. They seem to flow through each other.
This phenomenon questions our preconceived ideas about the rules for inside and outside in a 3-D geometric shape.

Susan Happersett

TWINKLE IN THE EYE – A group show at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery

The current exhibit at the Pablo’s Birthday Gallery on the Lower East Side features a number of works with interesting geometric themes.

Henrik Eiben – Minnesota – Steel
Picture courtesy of the gallery

Henrik Eiben’s steel wall construction, titled “Minnesota” is built from a collection of isosceles right triangles. Joining two congruent triangles along their legs (sides that form the right angle) results in parallelograms. Adding a third triangle, a trapezoid is formed. The steel sections have been hinged together with leather and some of the triangles that make up this open frame are angled off the wall. This gives the work a more 3-D presence, with the breaking off the flat wall pale into the gallery space.

Karsten Konrad – VW – Mixed media
Picture courtesy of the gallery

“VW”  is a mixed media octagonal mosaic by Karsten Konrad. The walls of the sculpture are created using a series of parallel strips creating a series of tight concentric octagons. This is in contrast to the multicolored parallel strips in the patchwork of diagonals that make up the central image.
Susan Happersett

Holger Hadrich – by Sarah Stengle

Holger Hadrich makes complex, collapsible geometric structures out of steel wire, and then photographs them in a way that dissolves the pure determination of the geometry into a feeling of a fleeting memory. The context chosen is often an ordinary place that implies motion, or transition. Sidewalks, asphalt and rivers recur with the superimposition of a delicate geometric structure.

17-08-01These objects rarely obscure their backdrop but rather hover like an apparition. One can see right through them, as one could see through a ghost. In his hands, the timeless geometry of the Archimedean solids are presented as movable objects that we pass by in a fleeting world. The context for his creations underscore the idea of passage and form a sequence of ordinary by-ways transformed by an ongoing internal conversation with mathematical form.

17-08-02The objects themselves are based on polyhedra, which are usually conceived of as solid. In his hands, however, they are rendered flexible and collapsible. Their web-like delicacy show precision and immense patience. One can almost imagine the object being turned in hand as careful attention is paid to the vertices. In many cases they are punctuated by small brass washers or carefully formed loops, which form a secured but collapsible hub. A different aspect of the work is made apparent when the objects are held in the hands. They are designed to be collapsible. Many are collapsible along more than one axis. To understand the collapsibility of his constructs it is best to handle them or see them in motion. His video Medusa Tower below shows one of his structures expanding from a depth of about three inches to nearly five meters.

Art historians from Vasari to Wöfflin have debated the supremacy of linear versus painter pictorial devices in art.  These works are both simultaneously linear and painterly (malerisch). The absolute clarity of the mathematic constructs is intentionally obscured to become integral to the partially dissolved, or transient clarity of the object as photographed.  These linear forms become painterly through Hadrich’s lens. The geometric forms are pulled out of the originating mathematical abstractions and into our ordinary life, where they seem to hover on the brink of collapsing and disappearing.

17-08-03To quote Wölfflin: “Composition, light and color no longer merely serve to define the form, but have their own life absolute clarity has been partly abandoned to enhance the effect.” The resolutely normal sidewalks and fragments of asphalt are also transformed when viewed through the orderly but complex web of geometric construction of wire. One immediately intuits a precise order that stands against our own transience and feels patient, quiet and timeless.
You can find more about Hadrich’s work on his Facebook page.

This is Sarah Stengle’s first contribution to this blog. Sarah is an artist and writer based in St Paul, Minnesota.

More From The Bridges Conference 2015 in Baltimore


The use of computer generated drawing processes and inkjet printers is a popular means  of expression at the Bridges conference. Some of the more interesting examples on display were created by David Chappell. The artist builds a system of rules to generate graceful line drawings that are mathematically to related plant growth through space and time. The lines begin from a rooted position at the horizontal bottom of the picture plane and playful grow up into reaching tendrils. In order to achieve this lyrical organic quality (not an easy feat using mathematical algorithm computer generation) Chappell modifies the rules throughout the process. This extra attention allows the drawings to change and develop in a more free-form manner.


David Chappell -untitled – 2014
33 x 40 cm – Archival Inkjet Print
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

Another means of creating computer assisted art is the use of laser cutting. In his work “Islamic Fractal Starflower”, Pill Webster has cut a lace-like pattern into a clear light blue acrylic sheet. The mathematics behind this pattern is a combination of two geometric themes: the symmetry in Islamic patterns and the recursive properties of fractals. This combination requires some heavy weight mathematics, but Webster’s choice of materials transforms  the complex theories into an ethereal presence. It has the appearance of being built from delicate and complex ice crystal. The juxtaposition between the serious mathematical generation and delicate physicality of the work create an interesting tension.


Phil Webster – Islamic Fractal Starflower – 2014
38 x 38 cm – Laser cut acrylic, light blue
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

Nathaniel Friedman is one of my favorite artists for two reasons. First, he creates wonderful sculptures and prints and second because he is a very supportive of other artists. As the founder of the organization ISAMA – The International Society of Art, Mathematics and Architecture, he contacted me years ago to speak at one of the first Math Art conferences. This was my introduction into a whole community of other artists and mathematicians devoted to the aesthetics of Mathematics. I will be eternally grateful to Nat.


Nathaniel Friedman – Triple Twist Mobius – 2014
29 x 29 x 7 cm – Aluminum
Picture courtesy of the artist and the Bridges Conference

But back to the sculpture…. “Triple Twist Mobius” consists of three equal-sized aluminum bars each with a single twist. They are joined to form a triangle shape. The clean lines and the simplicity of the form are deceiving, this is a powerful shape. The 2-D photo does not do it justice. In the gallery each vantage point offers a different geometry, it  seems to change depending on where your stand. This act of looking at something from different perspectives is referred to as hyperseeing  (a concept Friedman taught me, Thank You!)

Susan Happersett

Bridges Conference 2015 in Baltimore

Every Summer the Bridges organization holds a conference devoted to Mathematics and the Arts. Bridges is an international organization whose sole mission is to foster and explore these interdisciplinary connections. This year the meeting was held in Baltimore Maryland in the beautiful University of Baltimore Law building. Each year the Art exhibition is one of the highlights of the gathering. This year was a particularly impressive display of work in a light and open space over three floors. Here are two photos of the gallery.


It has been very difficult for me to just single out a few art works to write about, for a complete overview I suggest checking out the Bridges website. Today I will focus on two works by two different artists that struck me particularly.


Taneli Luotoniemi – “The Hyper Cube” – 2015
Pencil on paper – 42 x 40 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridges

I will start with a pencil  drawings by Taneli Luotoniemi. I have a real affinity for hand drawing and I feel Luotoniemi is able to achieve a remarkable subtly of line form and grey scale using only a pencil. “The Hypercube” Is a 2-D representation of a 3-D depiction of a 4-D cube. There have been many example of two dimensional art referencing hyper cubes but this is definitely a a more organic representation then most. This is achieved by the use of thick curved lines that meet at crossings of more solid shapes, instead of small points. By adjusting the grey scale of the pencil mark Luotoniemi gives the lines the appearance of weaving over and under each other. This is one of the most graceful visual interpretations I have seen.


David H Press – “Three ¾ Great Circles in Orange” – 2015
Laminated wood and cotton thread – 40 x 40 x 40cm
Picture courtesy of the artist and Bridges

David H. Press builds elegant hanging sculptures that are a type of 3-D line drawings. The support structures are curved shapes but the wires within these frameworks are straight lines that form what appear to be curved surfaces. Symmetry plays a major role in Press’ work. In “Three Great ¾ Circles in Orange”  the use of three circles would have created a sphere, but the ¾ circles create an asymmetrical frame work. Within the wire line work, however, there are some smaller areas with symmetrical properties. We are used to seeing complicated symmetries in Mathematical sculpture, but the use of the ¾ circles rips open the sphere, granting the viewer a fresh look.

There were so much interesting work on display this year it is hard to discuss it all in one  blog post, I will write more next week.

Susan Happersett