The current (December 2017) issue of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts (JMA) is introducing a new feature, highlighting individual artists through their statements. The fist artist covered is yours truly.
Publisher Taylor & Francis is making the article available to everyone. You can read it here. The accompanying picture is also on the cover of JMA this issue.
This Saturday, February 18 at 12 Noon EST, I will be speaking about mathematical art at the CAA’s annual conference at the Hilton Midtown in New York. I will be focusing on the works I have made in collaboration with Purgatory Pie press, which will be on display (and for sale).
I never planned to use this blog to discuss my political leanings but …
My sister Laura and I participated in the Woman’s March in Washington this past weekend. The size of the crowd was of a magnitude I have never experienced before. Anyone who has seen my work knows i have a predisposition for counting. Years ago, I developed a system of creating counted mark-making drawings. One project – from 1999 – titled “A Million Markings for the Millennium features 125 prints, each with a 40 by 20 square grid. Each grid square contains 10 markings. The number one million is thrown around freely in rhetoric and dialog, causing it to loose its gravitas. This work is my visual answer to the question “Just How many is a million?”
Standing on Indepence Avenue on Jan 21 I was overwhelmed by the sea of people all walking together. The societal effects of very large number was palatable. I had not planned on discussing these emotions in this forum but when the concept of counting becomes an issue with regards the Presidential inauguration crowd, I could not stop myself.
Artists, even Math artists, do not work in a bubble (although I have attempted to crawl under a rock for the last two months). Objective counting and measuring has become a source of political existential angst. There is really no such thing as “alternative accuracy”. Sometimes numbers speak louder than words.
I guess I will always be a Nasty Number Geek
“Pieced Quits, Wrapped Forms” is Sara VanDerBeek’s current solo exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery. There is a variety of work on display, including large abstract photographs and monochrome sculptures, all with geometric themes based of quilts, Pre-Columbian patterning, and modern textile arts.
The totem pole-like structure “XXXVII” is a stacked tower of eight rectangular prisms or cuboids. By painting the entire structure white, the artist allows the viewer to focus on the patterns and shadows on each side of the prisms. Each rectangular side has a width to height ratio of 2:3. Bisecting the rectangle along the diagonal, order 2 rotational symmetry is achieved and two right triangles are formed. There is a series of consecutively smaller but similar triangles, that form a step-like pattern into the prism.
VanDerBeek has successfully taken the geometric basis from textile patterning and distilled it to its purest form, presenting these ideas in a contemporary visual dialog.
The Whitney Museum is currently presenting “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight”. This outstanding exhibition examines work from 1948-1978. Born in Cuba and educated in Havana, New York and Paris, Herrera developed a distinctive hard-edge geometric style. This is a large show and would require more than one blog post to discuss in fill. I have decided to limit this post to paintings Herrera created in NY after she returned from studying in Paris (1952-1965).
“Black and White” from 1962 is an excellent example from this time period. The shape of the actual canvas is an important element in the architecture of the work. By rotating the square there are no horizontal or vertical lines, this immediately disrupts the visual experience. Herrera limited her color pallet to two colors creating a dynamic tension of positive and negative space. In this work the thicker white strips are the same width as the thicker black strips but in the gallery there is an optical illusion where the white seems wider. The alternating of black and white parallel lines on the isosceles right triangles creates an order-2 rotational symmetry.
“Horizontal” from 1965 also features two colors and a square. This painting again relies on the shape of the canvas to define its structure, but in this case a circular format. The thin horizontal wedges amplify the push and pull of the red and blue triangles and circle segments, formed by the edge of the canvas (arc) and the sides of the squares (chords).
“Lines of Sight” is a long overdue solo museum exhibition for Carmen Herrera It is a welcome opportunity to appreciate the artist’s exciting use of geometry.
Victor Vasarely was the founder of the Optic Art or Op Art movement. His studies at the Budapest location of Bauhaus education in the 1920’s influenced Vasarely style of geometric abstraction. The paintings in the “Analog” exhibition at Maxwell Davidson Gallery demonstrate Vasarely’s ability to visually bend and stretch the plane of the 2-D canvas into 3-D space. The images seem to bounce and vibrate off the canvas.
The acrylic painting “PHOBOS” from 1979 uses the distortion of squares to create what looks like a square-shaped hole in the center of the canvas that is angled at a 90-degree turn from the edges of the canvas. The four isosceles right triangles in the corners of the canvas feature a pattern made up of purple or green squares. The four isosceles trapezoids have been filled in with distorted representations of squares creating the perspective of falling inward or protruding outward. The central square contains a grid of squares that again flattens out the plane.
Vasarely was the master of painting exacting geometric formations, but the most impressive element to this work is the exciting sense of space and movement. This is the first gallery show of Victor Vasarely’s paintings in many years It was very exciting to see a great selection of these geometric masterpieces all in one location.
There are a number of Upper East Side galleries that display museum caliber exhibitions of historically significant art. The current show at the Dominique Lévy gallery “Drawing Then, Innovation and Influence in American drawings of the Sixties” is an excellent example. It features work by some of my favorite artists like Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, and Cy Twombly. The list goes on and on, there is even a Sol Lewitt wall drawing.
There are two works on display that relate the most directly to Mathematics. Mel Bochner’s “3” from 1966, is an homage to a Sierpinski Triangle. An equilateral triangular grid formation has been strategically filled in with hand written number 3’s and words that begin with letters “Tri”. The positive and negative shapes created delineate the fractal construction of a Sierpinski Triangle.
The second drawing is Josef Albers’ “Reverse + Obverse” from 1962. This line drawing is a 2-D rendering of 3-D constructions.
Both the top and bottom pairs of the figures employ a 180 degree rotation, an order-2 rotational symmetry. This work is a geometric expression of a form turning through space.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the MOMA’s ground breaking 1976 exhibition, “Drawing Now”. The current show at Dominique Lévy gallery is true to this historical reference, focusing on work from the turbulent years from 1960-1969. There is a wide range of work on display from drawings with social commentary, to drawings exploring the aesthetics of minimalism and conceptual rule-based art.