New East Digital Archive

This New York exhibition is celebrating Hungary’s unsung computer art pioneer

17 April 2018

Born in Budapest in 1924, Hungarian artist Vera Molnar was among the first artists to explore and develop the strange new world of computer technology.

Inspired by constructivism, Molnar harnessed the computer as a device to endlessly investigate infinite variations in geometric shape and line.

After learning early programming languages such as Fortran and Basic, she gained access to a computer at a research lab in Paris, creating computer graphic drawings on a plotter.

It is those early digital artworks that are now on display at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery in New York as part of a new exhibition, Vera Molnar: Drawings 1949-1986. As well as featuring an array computer drawings made between 1968 and 1986, the gallery is also slowing a selection of her handmade paper works, created between 1949 and 1970.

Unlike other digital art pioneers, Molnar never attempted to create images with her codes. Her mission lay with the Research Group for Visual Art (“Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel,” or GRAV), of which she was a founding member. Created in Paris in 1960, the group championed minimal, non-objective image-making, later giving rise to the Op-Art and Kinetic Art movements.

She embraced both the computer’s high calculation speeds and accuracy, playing with algorithms to create a high number of variables. Yet Molnar also claimed the importance of hazard and chance, programming her own “interferences” that would offset otherwise predictable outcomes. Molnar left each drawing on the raw paper on which it was created, refusing to remove the perforated edges made by the mainframe computer — a testament to the timeconsuming process behind the art itself.

Vera Molnar: Drawings 1949-1986 will run at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery in New York until 12 May. For more information, visit the gallery’s website by clicking here.