Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is pleased to present its third exhibition of work by the internationally-recognized digital artist Vera Molnar. Still active today at age 95, her remarkable practice encompasses painting, drawing, collage, and installation. The exhibition will feature an important selection of abstract and Constructivist-derived works on paper and paintings made between 1947 and 1966. Also included will be the artist’s computer drawings made between 1968 and 1987. The exhibition will be accompanied by an e-catalogue with essay by Francesca Franco, a Venetian-born art historian based in the U.K. whose research focuses on the history of art and technology. Currently, Dr Franco is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, where she is investigating novel ways of documenting digital art and researching the history of early computer art.
Born in Budapest in 1924, Vera Molnar established a prominent position for herself in the field of Constructivist/Concrete art before venturing into the world of computers. She received traditional training in painting, drawing, art history, and aesthetics at the Budapest College of Fine Arts where she would meet her husband and earliest collaborator, Francois Molnar. Following the couple’s move in 1947 to Paris, where she still lives today, Vera formed important relationships with her contemporaries, including a close friendship with the noted abstract artist Sonia Delaunay. However, it would be the Swiss constructivist and theorist Max Bill, and the leading French abstractionist Francois Morellet who would help to shape Molnar’s early career. Working alongside such artists as Morellet, Julio Le Parc, and Jesus Rafael Soto, Vera and Francois Molnar became founding members in 1960 of the Research Group for Visual Art (“Groupe de Rechereche d’art Visuel” or GRAV) which espoused minimal, non-objective image-making, and which later gave rise to the Op-Art and Kinetic Art movements of the following decade. Though Francois began his career as an artist, his abiding interest in theoretical science would lead to a teaching career in the fields of aesthetics and the phenomenology of perception. Together, however, Vera and Francois would continue to share an enduring interest in the mathematical foundation of compositional arrangement.
As early at 1968, the computer became a central device in the making of Molnar’s paintings and drawings, allowing her to more comprehensively investigate endless variations in geometric shape and line. Molnar learned the early programing languages of Fortran and Basic, and gained access to a computer at a research lab in Paris where she began to make computer drawings on a plotter based on her own algorithms. Several of these early drawings are included in the exhibition. Using the computer’s high calculation speed and signal capacity to arrive at a large number of variables, Molnar nonetheless insists upon the importance of hazard and chance in the final outcome. By injecting small programming ‘interruptions’, she found she was able to offset predictable outcomes.
Molnar’s work has been included in numerous European museum exhibitions as well as an increasing number in the United States. In early 2019 her work was included in the exhibition By Any Means: Contemporary Drawings from The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, Other group exhibitions include Thinking Machines, Art and Design in the Digital Age, 1959-1989 organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2017; and Sixfold Symmetry: Pattern in Art and Science, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, 2016-2017. This fall, her work will be the subject of a survey exhibition at the Museum of Digital Art (MUDA), Zurich, Switzerland. In 2007, Molnar was appointed Chevalier of Arts and Letters, Paris, and in 2011 she received the Republic of Hungary’s Order of Merit. Her work is included in the following public collections: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Musee Nationale d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; Kunsthalle Bremen; National Gallery, Budapest; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.