Manfred MOHR


Since the late 1950s, Manfred Mohr, a pioneer of generative and computer art, has been making rigorously minimal paintings and drawings. His work is stringently conceptual, but with an elegant lyricism which belies its formal underpinnings.

During the 1960s, Mohr’s practice evolved from abstract expressionism towards a more hard-edged geometric painting. By 1968, in pursuit of a ‘real rational art’ he had begun to develop a ‘programmed expressionism’ in which algorithms were used to generate art that formalised his vision in a new, logical way.

In 1969, Mohr gained access to one of the first computer-driven drawing machines or ‘plotters’ at the Paris Institute of Meteorology, used at that time by scientists to draw weather patterns. With this plotter, Mohr developed a series of computer programs based on certain algorithms that provided a controlled system through which new visual forms could be explored. Random elements were often incorporated to enable new forms to be generated within the framework of the algorithm. This line of research was inspired in part by philosopher and information theorist Max Bense and also by conversations with composer Pierre Barbaud, who was developing a theory of computer generated  music. In computer technology, Mohr found a means of exploring ideas that went beyond his personal limitations, opening up conceptual realms that might otherwise remain inaccessible.

Over the last forty years, Mohr has used the multi-dimensional cube in 3, 4, 5, 6 and 11 dimensions to explore structural relationships within higher dimensions and their artistic potential as a system of two-dimensional visual signs or ‘êtres graphiques’. In 2000, he introduced colour and animation to give fuller expression to the incredible richness of the multiple, complex variations.

Mohr’s exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971 was the first solo presentation in a museum of ‘computer art’ calculated by a digital computer. Since then he has had major solo exhibitions in the US and Europe, and group shows at MoMA, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. His work is in major national institutional collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Kunstmuseum Stuttgart.

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MANFRED MOHRBorn on June 8, 1938 in Pforzheim (Germany)
Lived in Barcelona, Spain from 1962-1963
Studio in Paris from 1963 to 1983
Lives and works in New York since 1981
Kunst + Werkschule, Pforzheim
Jazz musician (tenor-sax, oboe)
Action paintings
Receives school prize (art) of the City of Pforzheim
Introduction to the information aesthetics of Max Bense
1962-1963 lives in Barcelona, Spain
Begins the exclusive use of black and white as means of visual and aesthetic expression
Studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris
Geometric experiments lead to hard edge painting
Meets in Paris (1967) composer Pierre Barbaud, pioneer of computer music
First one-man exhibition at the Daniel Templon Gallery, Paris
Systematization of the picture content
Publication of the visual book ‘Artificiata I’
First drawings with a computer
Founding member of the seminar ‘Art et Informatique’ University of Vincennes, Paris
Meets mathematician Estarose Wolfson
First one-man show of digital computer generated art in a Museum, (catalog and show)
ARC, Museé d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris / France
Sequential computer drawings are introduced
Begins to work on fixed structures: the cube
Started experimenting with 16mm computer generated animations, “Square Roots”, “Cubic Limit” etc
Receives awards at the World Print Competition-73, San Francisco, and the 10th Biennial in Ljubljana
Begins to work with the 4-D hypercube and graph-theory
Workphase: Divisibility, dissection of cube
Quasi-organic growth programs on the cube
First retrospective exhibition, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen
Renews work on the 4-D hypercube. Four-dimensional rotation as generator of signs
Extends work to the 5-D and 6-D hypercube. Rotation as well as projection as generators of signs
Receives the ‘Golden Nica’ at Prix Ars Electronica in Linz and the ‘Camille Graeser Prize’ in Zürich
Workphase: Laserglyphs, diagonal-paths through 6-D hypercube are cut from steel plates with a laser
The first comprehensive monograph on Manfred Mohr is published by Waser-Verlag, Zürich
Is elected a member of the American Abstract Artists
Receives an Artists’ Fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts
Selected for Pioneering Artists, Siggraph Orlando, Florida
Invited to sign the Golden Book of Pforzheim, Germany
Starts to use color (after using black and white for more than three decades) to show
the complexity of the work through differentiation
Designs and builds small pc’s to run his program “space.color” and since 2004 also the program “subsets” 
The resulting images are visualized in real time on LCD flat panels in a slow, non repetitive motion
Receives the d.velop digital art award [ddaa] for digital pioneering, Köln / Bremen
Develops the program“klangfarben”, which encompasses a body of paintings and animations based on the 11-dimensional hypercube using its diagonal paths as compositional building blocks.
The program runs on a PC and the resulting images (animation) are visualized in real time on two square LCD flat panels in a slow, non-repetitive motion
Development of the program “parallelResonance”. Digital-paintings and animations are also based on the 11-dimensional hypercube and its diagonal paths as graphic elements. As in all my screen works the images, are changing in a slow and non repetive motion.
Development of the program “Artificiata II”. Digital-paintings and animations are based on the 11 to 13 dimensional hypercube and its diagonal paths as graphic elements. The animation algorithm contains random variations of speed and suites of stills adding a musical rhythm to this work.
Receives the ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art.
Honored with retrospective show The Algorithm of Manfred Mohr, 1963-Now at ZKM – Media Museum, Karlsruhe and
was chosen as Featured Artist, in a solo show at ArtBasel/Basel with bitforms gallery.

Manfred Mohr collection ›