<em>Untitled</em>, 1964

Manfred Mohr
Untitled, 1964
Intaglio etching on paper
9.75 x 13 in / 25 x 33 cm
Edition of 10

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: 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.

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.

These pieces from 1964 reveal, early on, Mohr’s interest in automatic writing, signs, and alphabet synthesis.

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