You may or may not be old enough to remember when the first personal computers came out, but if you visit the exhibition Pixel Fields at Richard Taittinger Gallery this month, you’ll get an idea of what they produced. Greek-American artist Nassos Daphnis used an early computer to print out pixelated graphics, which were then painted over to become modern art. Now on view in an exhibition through October 25, Pixel Fields is a show of color and shapes, of originality and machinery. See it for yourself today.
Born in 1914 in Greece, Daphnis never received any formal art training, but began producing and exhibiting artworks by the 1950s. By the late 1980s Daphnis began using an Atari ST computer to make parts of his work, becoming on of the very first and few artists to use technology in his art. The Atari ST transformed his paintings, making it much faster and easier to complete. He is now known for his color plane hard-edged paintings and is often compared to famed line painter Piet Mondrian.
For almost forty years of his life, Daphnis (1914-2010) was represented by the Leo Castelli Gallery Gallery in New York, which showed his works in not only single-artist exhibitions but also shows that featured contemporaries like Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg. Although not as well known today, Daphnis was nonetheless an icon in the history of art. His artwork is now in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Guggenheim. His estate is now represented by Richard Taittinger Gallery, located at 154 Ludlow Street in downtown Manhattan.
With primary colors of blue, yellow and red, black and white, the artworks on display are boxed in, geometrically symmetrical. Squares and circles overlap, lines intersect balls of color. Hard edges of color are found in each canvas, reminiscent of the computer graphics that would have been used from the first computers. Although simple, the paintings are mesmerizing to look at, taking the viewer deep into the artwork, almost hypnotizing in nature.
The Taittinger Gallery comments, “Having propelled the pixel to new horizons, Daphnis also refined it. Daphnis’ employment of computer-generated graphics and use of the Atari ST to develop his radical digital landscapes can best be understood as a proto new media attitude. His early adoption of new technology into his traditional painting process parallels the Computer Paintings of Albert Oehlen or the pixilated abstractions of Cory Arcangel’s Photoshop CS series that followed decades later.”
With these artworks on view in New York for the first time after his death, and the first time in 20 years, Daphnis can reclaim his name as one the precursor of New Media artists, one of the very first artists to take technology and use it for his works. Check out his pixelated paintings today at Richard Taittinger Gallery.