On View at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific
Film Archive: November 7, 2018–March 3, 2019
On View at Mead Art Museum at Amherst College: March 28–June 2, 2019
Dimensionism Illuminates Untold Story of “Scientific Revolution” Among Leading European and American Artists
(Berkeley, CA) April 16, 2018—This fall, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) presents the premiere of a touring exhibition that explores the influence of scientific discovery on some of the twentieth century’s most celebrated artists. Organized by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein is the first exhibition to highlight the untold story of the “Dimensionist Manifesto”—a proclamation authored by Hungarian poet Charles Sirató in 1936 and endorsed by such artistic luminaries as Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, and others—which called for an artistic response to the era’s groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Featuring more than seventy artworks by the Manifesto’s signatories and their contemporaries, the exhibition illuminates remarkable connections between the scientific and artistic revolutions that shaped the twentieth century.
Dimensionism features new scholarship on the influence of science on European and American artists of the 1930s, who were active at a time when mass media was exposing the general public to radical new developments in scientific theory. Inspired by new conceptions of time and space engendered by physics, mathematics, astronomy, and microbiology, an emerging avant-garde movement sought to expand the “dimensionality” of modern art. These artists engaged with scientific concepts to advance bold new forms of creative expression, from the fourth-dimension of space-time embodied by Calder’s free-moving mobiles to new perceptions of the cosmos evoked by Noguchi’s lunar landscapes.
Curated by Vanja Malloy, the Mead’s curator of American art, Dimensionism brings together paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs from private and museum collections, along with poetry and other ephemera associated with the Dimensionist movement. More than 36 artists are represented in the exhibition, including many of the Manifesto’s original signatories as well as other prominent artists—such as Helen Lundeberg, Barbara Hepworth, Man Ray, Isamu Noguchi, Wolfgang Paalen, Pablo Picasso, Yves Tanguy, and many others—who drew inspiration from science.
“This unprecedented exhibition invites visitors to reconsider work by some of the most important artists of the twentieth century in a fresh historical framework that emphasizes their engagement with the world of science—a powerful influence on the trajectory of modern art that has been largely overlooked until now,” said Malloy. “By illuminating this forgotten history, Dimensionism reveals that major swaths of avant-garde art can never fully be understood unless contextualized within the social and scientific upheavals that shaped them.”
An illustrated 331-page exhibition catalog, edited by Malloy, provides the first in-depth scholarship on the Dimensionist Manifesto and the relationship between modern art and science more generally. The catalog includes new essays by Malloy; Oliver A. I. Botar from the University of Manitoba; Linda Dalrymple Henderson from the University of Texas at Austin; and Gavin Parkinson from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Published and distributed by the MIT Press, the catalog is available to purchase at the Mead Art Museum and BAMPFA.
“We are delighted to partner with our friends at the Mead in premiering their exceptional exhibition here in Berkeley, where our visitors will have the opportunity to rediscover an important passage of modern art history with a truly outstanding selection of artwork—including multiple works from our own collection,” said BAMPFA Director and Chief Curator Lawrence Rinder, who is overseeing the BAMPFA presentation of Dimensionism. “As the visual arts center for one of America’s leading research universities, BAMPFA is an ideal venue to launch an exhibition that celebrates the spirit of scholarly and creative exchange between the worlds of art and science.”
This exhibition is made possible through support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Joan Miró, Composition, 1937. Oil on composition board. 47 3/4 x 35 3/4 inches (121.3 x 90.8 cm). University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Gift of Julian J. and Joachim Jean Aberbach. © Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018. Photo: Jonathan Bloom.