Exhibition | Vera Molnar: Est-ce Une Ligne? | Contemporary Art at Vintage Galéria | Budapest | Art Week

Vera Molnar: Est-ce Une Ligne?

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Tuesday, 30 November 2021 to Friday, 28 January 2022

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Vera MOLNAR

Est-ce Une Ligne?

30 November – 28 January

Is it a line? – Vera Molnar could have asked the question countless times. A selection of her works from 1978 to 2019 is on view at Vintage Galéria’s current show, which borrows its title from one of Molnar's exhibited works (Est-ce Une Ligne?, 1985-2019). One-line works form a significant group in the artist's oeuvre (e.g. Une ligne, 1997). Of their origin, Molnar told the following story in an interview in 2019: “What I’m experimenting with right now is that I put my pencil on the paper and then proceed from there without lifting it; then I lift it, and the piece is ready. Picasso also did similar things, he has a book about it, too. However, the real inspiration was an engraving by Claude Mellan that I happened upon earlier. He made an image of Jesus where he moved his burin in circles altering only the width of the line. Imagine, you see a picture consisting of a single line that is at times thicker and then thinner again. I took the ‘one-liner’ bait, and that’s what I’m working on right now. Maybe these sketches will become an installation or, perhaps, something else, I don’t know yet.” Among other things, this could be the idea based on what the work consisting of three canvases was created, composed of just one line, a section on each canvas, continuing on the next. But can we really consider this as a single line?

The topic of “the unit and the whole” also interested Vera Molnar's husband, François Molnar, whose essay was published with the same title in 1966, in a volume edited by György Kepes, titled Module, Proportion, Symmetry, Rhythm (George Baziller, New York). From the beginning of her career, Vera Molnar's work was in accordance with her husband's scientific work, who supplemented his writings on art and his research – dealing with the psychology of perception – with philosophical, linguistic, semiotic, mathematical and geometric aspects. The author of Vera Molnar’s monograph, Vincent Baby used Ludwig Wittgenstein quotes several times as mottos to his texts. Wittgenstein’s work titled Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, originally published in 1921, can mark the field of logic as a possible intersection of Vera Molnar's works based on mathematical systems and the linguistic theories more and more commonly known and used since the 1960s.

“The facts in logical space are the world. (...) It is clear that however different from the real one an imagined world may be, it must have something – a form – in common with the real world. (...) We make to ourselves pictures of facts. (...) The picture consists in the fact that its elements are combined with one another in a definite way. (...) The picture depicts reality by representing a possibility of the existence and non-existence of atomic facts. (...) And if we penetrate to the essence of this pictorial nature we see that this is not disturbed by apparent irregularities. (...) For these irregularities also picture what they are to express; only in another way. (...) How can the all-embracing logic which mirrors the world use such special catches and manipulations? Only because all these are connected into an infinitely fine network, to the great mirror. (...) I am my world. (The microcosm.) – wrote Wittgenstein in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. „The whole thing is a process, it goes back and forth until something comes out of it. The computer makes its suggestions, which are logical ones because they obey the algorithms, the rules. From that I choose the ones I think are the most beautiful, the best and most intelligent.” – stated Vera Molnar, whose world is divided into lines and forms enclosed by lines. According to Wittgenstein, atomic facts are combinations of objects, and Vera Molnar renders these combinations, transforming the elements step by step. Wittgenstein suggests that to know an object, knowing all the possibilities of its occurrence in atomic facts is a must, and along this, Vera Molnar’s artistic practice can be described as a research on objects – a research focusing on the possibilities of the line’s occurrence in atomic facts, which lies in the nature of the line itself. “A proposition can only say how a thing is, not what it is.” – stated Wittgenstein, and nor does Vera Molnar seek to find the ultimate definition of the line. Rather she uses the “irregularities” described by the Austrian philosopher, consciously employing “order” and “disorder” to repeatedly examine what a line might be like, expressing her thoughts perceptibly through the senses. Is it a line? – could we also ask ourselves when looking at Molnar’s work. It’s a complex question where there’s never just an only answer but rather a conglomeration of answers. As Vera Molnar might responds: “Une ligne, comme un curriculum vitae, à l’image de l’ensemble des mes activités passées: somme de ma vie.”

Translating as: “One line, like a curriculum vitae, picturing all of my past activities: the sum of my life.” In addition to the consistent application of rules and organizing principles, Vera Molnar’s work often bears personal aspects, demonstrating how the world can be reflected in a single line for her. Her series on view titled Mikrokosmos (1978), consisting of ten silkscreen prints, can be considered depiction of interactions between the individual person and the world, the microcosm and the macrocosm. Molnar’s exhibited work created with a plotter, titled Tablotin 1-4 (1979), can be also linked to the immediate environment of man, because it’s based on an everyday object, a telephone book. When creating the series, Molnar appointed ten dots in two columns that marked numbers from zero to nine, then connected them following seven-digit phone numbers. She repeated this process several times, allocating multiple phone numbers on one page. Through the four pieces, she reduced the distance between the columns on each sheet according to a defined ratio system, increasingly crowding the lines. The ten-part collage series titled Le Montparnasse d'après Klee (2005) as well has a personal, but also universal dimension through the motif of the Parnassus. The starting point of Molnar’s work was Paul Klee's Ad Parnassum (1932), in the collection of Kunstmuseum Bern. Accordingly, in an interview with Júlia Cserba from 2019, Molnar stated: “Recently, someone gave me a Klee reproduction which stroke my fancy so much that I pasted it into my notebook. Just have a look at where I went from there. Quite a simple pattern: this is my world.”

Literature: A tekintet szintaxisa. François Molnar válogatott tanulmányai (ed. Judit Faludy). Gondolat Kiadó, Budapest, 2011.; Disorder in Order – The Art of Vera Molnar művészete (ed. Enikő Róka). Catalogues of the Municipal Gallery 163, Budapest, 2019.; Vera Molnar: Inventar 1946-1999, Preysing Verlag, Ladenburg,1999.; Vera Molnar: Solo d’un trait noir, 1997. In: Vera Molnar: Une ligne... Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen – Bernard Chauveau, Paris, 2018, 5.; Vera Molnar: Promenades en carré. Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, 2020.; Ludwig Wittgenstein: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (translated by C. K. Ogden). Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc New York –  K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., London, 1922.

RÁTKAI Zsófia

Vera MOLNAR (1924) visual artist. Vera Molnar, who has lived in France since 1947, is a pioneer in computer art. In 1960, she was a founding member of Groupe de Recherche d’art Visuel (GRAV), and she participated in the exhibition titled Konkrete Kunst [Concrete Art], organized by Max Bill at Helmhaus, Zürich. In 1959, she began making combinatorial images and modelling mathematical patterns by a method which she called the “machine imaginaire”. Then in 1968, she had a very early opportunity to exchange her imaginary computer for a real one. Molnar began to use the programming language as a generative tool in her artistic work when making her paintings and graphics. She creates images using a limited number of simple forms and produces sequences by gradually changing the proportions and the arrangement of the elements. In Molnar’s case, the purpose of the seriality lays in the possibility of continuous comparison and analysis of the individual images, and in the possible visualisation of the changing process that takes place. Computer generated algorithmic chance plays a key role in Molnar’s works, and the concepts of order and disorder, structure and freedom are important in her art. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1976 at the London Polytechnic, and her first artist’s book titled Ein Prozent Unordnung [One Percent Disorder] was published in 1980 by Wedgepress & Cheese, Bjerred. Her works are continuously displayed at solo exhibitions in Hungary (e.g. Lines, Forms, Colours, Vasarely Museum, Budapest, 1990; One Percent Disorder. Kepes Institut, Eger, 2012; Vera Molnar. Art Gallery of Paks, 2007-2008; Disorder in Order. Kiscell Museum – Municipal Gallery, Budapest, 2019), and internationally (e.g. (Un)Ordnung. Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, 2015; Pomenades en carré. Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, 2020), and at group shows (e.g. Elles. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2009; Ein Quadrat ist ein Quadrat ist ein Quadrat. Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, 2015; Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989. MoMA, New York, 2017). Her works can be found in the collections of the a Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Centre Pompidou (Paris), a Forum Konkrete Kunst (Erfurt), a Hungarian National Gallery – Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest), MoMA (New York), Museum Ritter (Waldenbuch) and Victoria and Albert Museum (London), among others.

Artist ( Name ):

Artist ( Description ): 

Vera MOLNAR (1924) visual artist. Vera Molnar, who has lived in France since 1947, is a pioneer in computer art. In 1960, she was a founding member of Groupe de Recherche d’art Visuel (GRAV), and she participated in the exhibition titled Konkrete Kunst [Concrete Art], organized by Max Bill at Helmhaus, Zürich. In 1959, she began making combinatorial images and modelling mathematical patterns by a method which she called the “machine imaginaire”. Then in 1968, she had a very early opportunity to exchange her imaginary computer for a real one. Molnar began to use the programming language as a generative tool in her artistic work when making her paintings and graphics. She creates images using a limited number of simple forms and produces sequences by gradually changing the proportions and the arrangement of the elements. In Molnar’s case, the purpose of the seriality lays in the possibility of continuous comparison and analysis of the individual images, and in the possible visualisation of the changing process that takes place. Computer generated algorithmic chance plays a key role in Molnar’s works, and the concepts of order and disorder, structure and freedom are important in her art. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1976 at the London Polytechnic, and her first artist’s book titled Ein Prozent Unordnung [One Percent Disorder] was published in 1980 by Wedgepress & Cheese, Bjerred. Her works are continuously displayed at solo exhibitions in Hungary (e.g. Lines, Forms, Colours, Vasarely Museum, Budapest, 1990; One Percent Disorder. Kepes Institut, Eger, 2012; Vera Molnar. Art Gallery of Paks, 2007-2008; Disorder in Order. Kiscell Museum – Municipal Gallery, Budapest, 2019), and internationally (e.g. (Un)Ordnung. Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, 2015; Pomenades en carré. Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, 2020), and at group shows (e.g. Elles. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2009; Ein Quadrat ist ein Quadrat ist ein Quadrat. Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch, 2015; Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989. MoMA, New York, 2017). Her works can be found in the collections of the a Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Centre Pompidou (Paris), a Forum Konkrete Kunst (Erfurt), a Hungarian National Gallery – Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest), MoMA (New York), Museum Ritter (Waldenbuch) and Victoria and Albert Museum (London), among others.

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Venue ( Address ): 

1053, Budapest, Magyar utca 26.

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Vera Molnar: Est-ce Une Ligne?
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