Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein

Sep 03, 2019 - Jan 05, 2020
Voorhees Gallery

Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein is a groundbreaking exhibition that explores how modern art was influenced by advances in science, from Einstein’s theory of relativity to newly powerful microscopic and telescopic lenses. A first-of-its-kind touring exhibition, Dimensionism is organized by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College and opened at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The exhibition features over 70 artworks and is accompanied by an illustrated exhibition catalogue published by MIT Press.

The exhibition is inspired by the 1936 “Dimensionist Manifesto,” which declared that artists should respond to the scientific advances happening around them. Under the leadership of Hungarian poet Charles Sirató, an international group of artists endorsed the Manifesto, which exhorted artists to use their art to explore the new physical realities and philosophical queries of their day. At the Zimmerli, a section of the exhibition is devoted to Charles Sirató, his roots in the Hungarian avant-garde, and his evolution from a poet to a theorist who embraced all the arts and envisioned a radical new coalition of creative thinkers. The Manifesto’s collection of signatures represents some of today’s best-known modern artists, including Hans Arp, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Francis Picabia, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

The exhibition also includes others who engaged with these ideas in their art, such as Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Adeline Kent, Helen Lundeberg, Herbert Matter, Isamu Noguchi, Wolfgang Paalen, and Dorothea Tanning. Their works reflect the drive of many modern artists throughout Europe and America to discover a new vision for human existence and expression in an era that redefined fundamental realities such as time and space. While some were inspired by emerging research into interstellar and microscopic spaces, others were influenced by an expanding understanding of quantum mechanics. By tracing a transnational flow of information and ideas, Dimensionism contextualizes modern art within the scientific revolution, and in doing so invites viewers to reconsider some of the most important artists of the twentieth century in a new framework that emphasizes their interests in and understanding of the scientific breakthroughs of the day. By rediscovering this forgotten history, Dimensionism reminds us that science played a significant role in the development of twentieth-century avant-garde art.

Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein is organized by Vanja Malloy, curator of American art at the Mead Art Museum. The exhibition is made possible with the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Arts at Amherst, the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund, the David W. Mesker ’53 Fund, and the Wise Fund for Fine Arts.

At the Zimmerli, grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Fund.  Additional support is provided by donors to the Zimmerli’s Major Exhibition Fund: James and Kathrin Bergin, Alvin and Joyce Glasgold, Michael McCulley, Sundaa and Randy Jones, Hemanshu and Heena Pandya, and the Voorhees Family Endowment.

For a list of programs related to Dimensionism, please click here.