Vera Molnár

1924 | Budapest, Hungary
Vera Molnár — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Vera Molnár, Courtesy Galerie Oniris

— Galerie Oniris

French painter.

After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Budapest and discovering Cubism, Vera Molnár went to Rome in 1947 to continue her research into geometric painting, but she swiftly returned to Paris. Impressed by the work of Le Corbusier and Fernand Léger, she aimed at a more radical style. On the theoretical level, she was influenced by Mondrian, Malevich and the Zurich-based Concrete Art movement. She favoured simple geometric elements and tried to “create works in a conscious way”: her work does not attempt to do away with all traces of subjectivity, but is developed through the senses, which, according to the artist, lie at the very root of creation. Her early works were still part of the abstract and minimalist tendency. The titles, always very descriptive, are reminders of her constant quest for objectivity:  for 3 carrés noirs, 3 rectangles gris, 5 rectangles bleu (1950), she strictly arranged three rows of geometric forms, through which she pinpointed the role and perception of sculptures. Between 1960 and 1968 her approach was akin to an experiment with form, like Quatre éléments distribué au hasard (1959), a perfect square of geometric forms made with strips of black adhesive film glued to white board.

Attracted by the relation between modern technologies and creation, Molnár was a co-founder, in 1961, of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), which laid claim to a kinetic approach to art and devoted a basic place to construction and perception. Her investigations into bichromy and Minimalism were comparable to those undertaken by Gottfried Honegger, Manfred Mohr, and François Morellet. While her husband, François Molnár, with whom she worked, turned away from their activities in order to join the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and teach, she focused her research on computer assisted creation and gave the public a chance to observe the consequences. She explained that her work was situated “between the three ‘cons’ [which also means ‘idiots’, in French]: Conceptualists, Constructivists, and computers”. She belonged to the generation of artists influenced by the emergence of new technologies but also of mathematical and geometric theories. In 1968, involved in a constructive and systematic art, she became one of the first artists to make the computer her favorite tool and the principal driving force of her art, with, first and foremost, algorithms:  programming became the main challenge of her visual system.

After that initial experimental period, she put the idea at the hub of the creative process:  form was now no more than materialization. Digital processing enabled her to get rid of the subjectivity of traditional pictorial tools. Her last artistic and computer experiments were increasingly thorough: in 1990, she first created forms by hand, and then indirectly used the computer. The Resauto program, which she developed in order to repeat and re-interpret the original work, proposed new versions of one and the same work. “The computer helps, but it does not ‘make’, it does not ‘draw’ or ‘invent’ anything”, she is fond of reminding us. Still favouring the algorithm, she worked with the mathematician and artist Erwin Steller, to create Promenade (presque aléatoire) (1998-1999): a radical and geometric work which abandoned the traditional two-dimensionality of the picture and was set up in space, like an installation.  She deconstructed each element of the form to understand their arrangement in the space of the picture, and then of the exhibition venue. The works of Molnár are present in many collections of international institutions, including the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris. In 1980, she joined the Centre de recherche expérimentale et informatique des arts visuels (CREIAV) at the Université Paris 1 – Sorbonne, where she taught visual arts until 1990.

Maïa Kantor

Translated from French by Simon Pleasance.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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