Manfred Mohr
Schrift-Bild, 1964
Egg tempera on canvas, wood
17.9 x 25.2 x 1.4 in / 45.5 x 64 x 3.5 cm

The origins Mohr’s of logical systems constructed with the computer are rooted in pure language – even chaotic surrealistic use of language – which is visible in his works from 1964, created at age 26, before he discovered the computer as a tool. The material approach in these pieces couldn’t possibly be more traditional: egg tempera on canvas, lithography, and aquatint etching. In these early works lies a clear relationship to other painters who engaged writing and language systems in their work of the same period, such as Cy Twombly, Leon Ferrari and Mira Schendel.

A natural link exists between conceptual art and the way Manfred Mohr approaches image making using a computer. Beginning his trajectory as a painter and jazz musician, Mohr eventually gravitated toward programming in 1968. Encouraged by his friend Pierre Barbaud, the first composer to use a computer to realize his music, Mohr founded an arts group called “Art et Informatique” at the University of Vicennes during his studies. By 1969 Mohr gained rare access to a Benson plotter that drew his works on paper and had been using the FORTRAN programming language for all his projects.


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