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
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My Artist’s Statement in the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts

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.

Happy Holidays!


Mathematical Meditations in Beacon, New York

A survey of my Mathematically inspired paintings, drawings, videos and artist’s books is currently on view at the Roundhouse Gallery in Beacon, NY. Situated in a restored 19th century factory building, the gallery space provides ample room for a wide range of work I have completed over the past twenty years.
Included in the exhibit are my counted marking drawings. I started making these early in my career and I am still creating them with more complex algorithms.
There is also a range of work based the Chaos Theory.
 
A wew of my pieces from my recent “Cartesian Lace” series are also on display.
 
 This wonderful opportunity has offered me a chance for the first time, to present an exploration of all of the various types of my Mathematical art all in one room.
The opening last weekend was wonderful. On May 21, Dikko Faust and Ester K. Smith of Purgatory pie Press will be at the gallery for a meet and greet. Over the past years I have collaborated with them on a number of limited edition letterpress projects, that are also on display. Meet Esther and Dikko from 2PM to 6PM.
Susan Happersett

Cartesian Lace Drawings

The past few months I have been developing a new type of drawing process based on Set Theory and the concept of mapping. Using the Cartesian coordinate system, I started by plotting sets of points on the x, y and z axes. To create a visual metaphor for the 4th dimension, I added one more axis perpendicular to the z axis. Using different mapping procedures I connect points from one axis to point on another. I utilize bijective (one point to one point) mapping, as well as non-bijective (one point to many points ) mapping patterns.

These new drawings use mathematics to create intricate patterns that relate to technological network maps, neurological phenomena, but also to hand-made lace.
Susan Happersett

College Art Association Conference Math Art Lecture

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).

College Art Association Conference
Hilton Hotel, 1335 6th Ave) at 53rd St
Second Floor – Rhinelander Gallery – Table 219
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Susan Happersett

A Million

I never planned to use this blog to discuss my political leanings but …

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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?”

EPSON MFP image

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

Susan Happersett

Sara VanDerBeek at Metro Pictures

“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.

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Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

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.

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Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

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.

Susan Happersett

Carmen Herrera at the Whitney

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).

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“Black and White”, 1962
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“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.

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“Horizontal”, 1965
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“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.

Susan Happersett

Victor Victor Vasarely at Maxwell Davidson Gallery

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.
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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.

Susan Happersett

Drawing Then at Dominique Lévy Gallery.

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.

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Josef Albers -“Reverse+Obverse” – 1962
Picture courtesy of the gallery

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.

Susan Happersett