Education

AB 101: Historical Figures in Generative Art—Vera Molnár

by Druid

Vera Molnár is a Hungarian artist living in France that’s considered the first female computer artist. Molnár’s creative career started long before computers, focusing on abstract and geometrical paintings. Her method foreshadowed the impact computers would eventually have on her practice.

“[The computer’s] immense combinatorial capacity facilitates the systematic investigation of the infinite field of possibilities.”

Born in Hungry, Molnár would attend Budapest Collect of Fine Arts, where she studied aesthetics and art history. After graduating in 1947, she would move to Paris to continue her intensely dedicated art practice. Through the 40s, Molnár’s practice focused on geometric abstractions, and by the late 50s, she would explore combinatorial images. Her work largely explored mathematics in art—she used geometric primitives with an emphasis on repetition to investigate the depth of possibilities in the contrast between order and disorder.

Vera Molnár portrait, 1961. Courtesy of François Molnàr. © Atelier Molnàr

In 1960, Molnár co-founded Groupe de recherche d’art visuel (GRAV) alongside ten other artists that would be instrumental in the Op-art and Kinetic Art movements of that decade. GRAV’s founding was influenced by Victor Vasarely’s idea that the individual artist is outdated. They expanded on this idea by appealing to public participation through interactive Labyrinths. Their first one was in 1963 and relied on artificial light and mechanical movement. Their second and last Labyrinth was in 1966 when the group invited the public to move through a set of kinetic activities, including walking on uneven surfaces and wearing distorting glasses. The group agreed to disband in 1968. In 1967, Molnár also co-founded Art et Informatique at the Institut d’Esthetique et des Sciences de l’Art in Paris.

Left Vera Molnár, Labyrinthe III, GRAV. Paris, 1963.  Right Vera Molnár, Une journée dans la rue, Paris, 1966.

Throughout this time, Molnár recognized the hypothetical nature of her art using “Machine Imaginaire.” With this, she would develop a manual system of artistic exploration and produce limited series from a foundational idea. So it’s no surprise that when Molnár discovered the computer’s power in 1968, she would replace her “Machine Imaginaire” with an actual computer. According to Molnár, this enabled the artist to step back from “the social thing” and focus on the real creative vision—fundamental creative ideas at the heart of her art practice. Molnár learned the early computer languages Fortran and Basic, which she used to create computer drawings with a plotter at a computer research lab in Paris.

In the 70s, Molnár and her husband, François Molnár, would develop Molnart. It was their own computer software that generated drawings based on semi-random geometric shapes specified by prescribed rules.

Molnár would refuse to “play the game” of seeking validation from galleries and institutions throughout her career. This delayed her eventual recognition as a central figure in art history and computer art specifically.

Molnár would go on to have her first solo exhibition, Transformations, at the gallery of the London Polytechnic in 1976. After that, she worked as a professor of fine arts at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, from 1985 to 1990. Exhibit Extrait de 100 000 milliards de lignes at CRÉDAC in 1999. Later in 2005, Molnár would be the first recipient of Digital Art Museum’s d.velop digital art award (DDAA) for her life’s work and honored with a solo exhibition Kunsthalle Bremen.

Major Works

Left Vera Molnár, Computer rosace-series, 1974.  Right Vera Molnár, Dialog Between Emotion and Method, 1986.
Left Vera Molnár, Hommage à Dürer Series, image02-Zyklus Dürer, 1984–92.  Right Vera Molnár, 1 of 24 Part Series, Java von 24 Quadraten, 1974.

Video Interviews

Vera Molnár is a Hungarian artist living in France that’s considered the first female computer artist. Molnár’s creative career started long before computers, focusing on abstract and geometrical paintings. Her method foreshadowed the impact computers would eventually have on her practice.

“[The computer’s] immense combinatorial capacity facilitates the systematic investigation of the infinite field of possibilities.”

Born in Hungry, Molnár would attend Budapest Collect of Fine Arts, where she studied aesthetics and art history. After graduating in 1947, she would move to Paris to continue her intensely dedicated art practice. Through the 40s, Molnár’s practice focused on geometric abstractions, and by the late 50s, she would explore combinatorial images. Her work largely explored mathematics in art—she used geometric primitives with an emphasis on repetition to investigate the depth of possibilities in the contrast between order and disorder.

Vera Molnár portrait, 1961. Courtesy of François Molnàr. © Atelier Molnàr

In 1960, Molnár co-founded Groupe de recherche d’art visuel (GRAV) alongside ten other artists that would be instrumental in the Op-art and Kinetic Art movements of that decade. GRAV’s founding was influenced by Victor Vasarely’s idea that the individual artist is outdated. They expanded on this idea by appealing to public participation through interactive Labyrinths. Their first one was in 1963 and relied on artificial light and mechanical movement. Their second and last Labyrinth was in 1966 when the group invited the public to move through a set of kinetic activities, including walking on uneven surfaces and wearing distorting glasses. The group agreed to disband in 1968. In 1967, Molnár also co-founded Art et Informatique at the Institut d’Esthetique et des Sciences de l’Art in Paris.

Left Vera Molnár, Labyrinthe III, GRAV. Paris, 1963.  Right Vera Molnár, Une journée dans la rue, Paris, 1966.

Throughout this time, Molnár recognized the hypothetical nature of her art using “Machine Imaginaire.” With this, she would develop a manual system of artistic exploration and produce limited series from a foundational idea. So it’s no surprise that when Molnár discovered the computer’s power in 1968, she would replace her “Machine Imaginaire” with an actual computer. According to Molnár, this enabled the artist to step back from “the social thing” and focus on the real creative vision—fundamental creative ideas at the heart of her art practice. Molnár learned the early computer languages Fortran and Basic, which she used to create computer drawings with a plotter at a computer research lab in Paris.

In the 70s, Molnár and her husband, François Molnár, would develop Molnart. It was their own computer software that generated drawings based on semi-random geometric shapes specified by prescribed rules.

Molnár would refuse to “play the game” of seeking validation from galleries and institutions throughout her career. This delayed her eventual recognition as a central figure in art history and computer art specifically.

Molnár would go on to have her first solo exhibition, Transformations, at the gallery of the London Polytechnic in 1976. After that, she worked as a professor of fine arts at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, from 1985 to 1990. Exhibit Extrait de 100 000 milliards de lignes at CRÉDAC in 1999. Later in 2005, Molnár would be the first recipient of Digital Art Museum’s d.velop digital art award (DDAA) for her life’s work and honored with a solo exhibition Kunsthalle Bremen.

Major Works

Left Vera Molnár, Computer rosace-series, 1974.  Right Vera Molnár, Dialog Between Emotion and Method, 1986.
Left Vera Molnár, Hommage à Dürer Series, image02-Zyklus Dürer, 1984–92.  Right Vera Molnár, 1 of 24 Part Series, Java von 24 Quadraten, 1974.

Video Interviews

Vera Molnár is a Hungarian artist living in France that’s considered the first female computer artist. Molnár’s creative career started long before computers, focusing on abstract and geometrical paintings. Her method foreshadowed the impact computers would eventually have on her practice.

“[The computer’s] immense combinatorial capacity facilitates the systematic investigation of the infinite field of possibilities.”

Born in Hungry, Molnár would attend Budapest Collect of Fine Arts, where she studied aesthetics and art history. After graduating in 1947, she would move to Paris to continue her intensely dedicated art practice. Through the 40s, Molnár’s practice focused on geometric abstractions, and by the late 50s, she would explore combinatorial images. Her work largely explored mathematics in art—she used geometric primitives with an emphasis on repetition to investigate the depth of possibilities in the contrast between order and disorder.

Vera Molnár portrait, 1961. Courtesy of François Molnàr. © Atelier Molnàr

In 1960, Molnár co-founded Groupe de recherche d’art visuel (GRAV) alongside ten other artists that would be instrumental in the Op-art and Kinetic Art movements of that decade. GRAV’s founding was influenced by Victor Vasarely’s idea that the individual artist is outdated. They expanded on this idea by appealing to public participation through interactive Labyrinths. Their first one was in 1963 and relied on artificial light and mechanical movement. Their second and last Labyrinth was in 1966 when the group invited the public to move through a set of kinetic activities, including walking on uneven surfaces and wearing distorting glasses. The group agreed to disband in 1968. In 1967, Molnár also co-founded Art et Informatique at the Institut d’Esthetique et des Sciences de l’Art in Paris.

Left Vera Molnár, Labyrinthe III, GRAV. Paris, 1963.  Right Vera Molnár, Une journée dans la rue, Paris, 1966.

Throughout this time, Molnár recognized the hypothetical nature of her art using “Machine Imaginaire.” With this, she would develop a manual system of artistic exploration and produce limited series from a foundational idea. So it’s no surprise that when Molnár discovered the computer’s power in 1968, she would replace her “Machine Imaginaire” with an actual computer. According to Molnár, this enabled the artist to step back from “the social thing” and focus on the real creative vision—fundamental creative ideas at the heart of her art practice. Molnár learned the early computer languages Fortran and Basic, which she used to create computer drawings with a plotter at a computer research lab in Paris.

In the 70s, Molnár and her husband, François Molnár, would develop Molnart. It was their own computer software that generated drawings based on semi-random geometric shapes specified by prescribed rules.

Molnár would refuse to “play the game” of seeking validation from galleries and institutions throughout her career. This delayed her eventual recognition as a central figure in art history and computer art specifically.

Molnár would go on to have her first solo exhibition, Transformations, at the gallery of the London Polytechnic in 1976. After that, she worked as a professor of fine arts at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, from 1985 to 1990. Exhibit Extrait de 100 000 milliards de lignes at CRÉDAC in 1999. Later in 2005, Molnár would be the first recipient of Digital Art Museum’s d.velop digital art award (DDAA) for her life’s work and honored with a solo exhibition Kunsthalle Bremen.

Major Works

Left Vera Molnár, Computer rosace-series, 1974.  Right Vera Molnár, Dialog Between Emotion and Method, 1986.
Left Vera Molnár, Hommage à Dürer Series, image02-Zyklus Dürer, 1984–92.  Right Vera Molnár, 1 of 24 Part Series, Java von 24 Quadraten, 1974.

Video Interviews

Vera Molnár is a Hungarian artist living in France that’s considered the first female computer artist. Molnár’s creative career started long before computers, focusing on abstract and geometrical paintings. Her method foreshadowed the impact computers would eventually have on her practice.

“[The computer’s] immense combinatorial capacity facilitates the systematic investigation of the infinite field of possibilities.”

Born in Hungry, Molnár would attend Budapest Collect of Fine Arts, where she studied aesthetics and art history. After graduating in 1947, she would move to Paris to continue her intensely dedicated art practice. Through the 40s, Molnár’s practice focused on geometric abstractions, and by the late 50s, she would explore combinatorial images. Her work largely explored mathematics in art—she used geometric primitives with an emphasis on repetition to investigate the depth of possibilities in the contrast between order and disorder.

Vera Molnár portrait, 1961. Courtesy of François Molnàr. © Atelier Molnàr

In 1960, Molnár co-founded Groupe de recherche d’art visuel (GRAV) alongside ten other artists that would be instrumental in the Op-art and Kinetic Art movements of that decade. GRAV’s founding was influenced by Victor Vasarely’s idea that the individual artist is outdated. They expanded on this idea by appealing to public participation through interactive Labyrinths. Their first one was in 1963 and relied on artificial light and mechanical movement. Their second and last Labyrinth was in 1966 when the group invited the public to move through a set of kinetic activities, including walking on uneven surfaces and wearing distorting glasses. The group agreed to disband in 1968. In 1967, Molnár also co-founded Art et Informatique at the Institut d’Esthetique et des Sciences de l’Art in Paris.

Left Vera Molnár, Labyrinthe III, GRAV. Paris, 1963.  Right Vera Molnár, Une journée dans la rue, Paris, 1966.

Throughout this time, Molnár recognized the hypothetical nature of her art using “Machine Imaginaire.” With this, she would develop a manual system of artistic exploration and produce limited series from a foundational idea. So it’s no surprise that when Molnár discovered the computer’s power in 1968, she would replace her “Machine Imaginaire” with an actual computer. According to Molnár, this enabled the artist to step back from “the social thing” and focus on the real creative vision—fundamental creative ideas at the heart of her art practice. Molnár learned the early computer languages Fortran and Basic, which she used to create computer drawings with a plotter at a computer research lab in Paris.

In the 70s, Molnár and her husband, François Molnár, would develop Molnart. It was their own computer software that generated drawings based on semi-random geometric shapes specified by prescribed rules.

Molnár would refuse to “play the game” of seeking validation from galleries and institutions throughout her career. This delayed her eventual recognition as a central figure in art history and computer art specifically.

Molnár would go on to have her first solo exhibition, Transformations, at the gallery of the London Polytechnic in 1976. After that, she worked as a professor of fine arts at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, from 1985 to 1990. Exhibit Extrait de 100 000 milliards de lignes at CRÉDAC in 1999. Later in 2005, Molnár would be the first recipient of Digital Art Museum’s d.velop digital art award (DDAA) for her life’s work and honored with a solo exhibition Kunsthalle Bremen.

Major Works

Left Vera Molnár, Computer rosace-series, 1974.  Right Vera Molnár, Dialog Between Emotion and Method, 1986.
Left Vera Molnár, Hommage à Dürer Series, image02-Zyklus Dürer, 1984–92.  Right Vera Molnár, 1 of 24 Part Series, Java von 24 Quadraten, 1974.

Video Interviews

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