20090523-1, algorithmic artwork by Samuel Monnier


2009, digital image and unique archival pigment print

Copyright S.Monnier 2009

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A blog post related to this work:

November 17th 2009

The Anonima group

Here is a great website displaying the work of the Anonima group, formed by the three abstract painters Ernst Benkert, Francis Hewitt and Ed Mieczkowski in the 60's. More information about them can be found here.

Even if most of their works are pretty minimalistic, I find them very interesting. Here is for instance a beautiful work of Francis Hewitt illustrating a technique to create patterns. Start from a collection of shapes, then display randomly a member of the collection at the vertice of a square gird or some other tiling of the plane. Here, the "shapes" are decompositions of squares into interlocked polygons and squares four times smaller.


Francis Hewitt, Untitled Drawing-Overlap Series, 1966, Ink on Paper, 24 x 24 inches.

I have a few works constructed in this way, for instance using stars with various number of arms, as in 20080915-1 or 20080917-1. The images using the Invaders pattern are also examples of this technique. 20091010-1 and 20090523-1 are two images using a similar algorithm. In each tile of a square tiling, a pattern is drawn with a random rotation, magnification or shift, and attenuated so that it disappears smoothly at the boundaries of the tiles. More complicated famillies of shapes can be created in this way.

The collection of shapes can consists of a single shape with a varying parameter. Moreover, instead of choosing the shapes randomly, it is possible to choose the parameter according to a gradient or to another pattern, and produce in this way emergent patterns (see this blog post). Here is another work by Hewitt illustrating this technique with rings of varying thickness and a gradient involving both the distance and the angle about the origin.


Francis Hewitt, Size Change Drawing #2, 1968, Ink on Paper, 28.5 x 22.5 inches.

Finally, I was struck by this image by Ernst Benkert which displays a pattern very similar to 20081003. (I didn't find this work good enough to post it on this website, the colors are so to say pretty experimental.) The pattern of 20081003 is a Truchet pattern, namely a square tiling whose tiles are decorated. The decoration are not chosen randomly, but according to an underlying pattern, here a square gird with mesh size a non integer multiple of the size of the tiles. I don't know how Benkert came up with his pattern, which looks less regular.


Ernst Benkert, Half Inch Grid, 1964, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 21 inches.

Note that some works by these painters are currently on display at D.Wigmore Fine Art in New York.