Exhibitions at Art Vault in Santa Fe and at Orange Door in Chicago change annually. Information about past exhibitions is available below.
Saint Somebody brings together 15 artworks from across the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation’s diverse collections of Digital & Media Art, Contemporary Southwestern, and Art of the Spanish Americas that are rarely exhibited in parallel. The recent acquisition of a major video art installation by Bill Viola provided an opportunity to research the technology of saints across centuries and artistic media, inspiring this exhibition.
Saint Somebody asks: What does a saint look like? How do their miracles appear? Artists have helped to answer these questions for centuries. The litany of saints is also a history of art.
Artists include José Armijo, Dara Birnbaum, R. Luke DuBois, Carla Gannis, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Desmond Paul Henry, Jason Salavon, Cauleen Smith, Anne Spalter, Bill Viola, Saya Woolfalk, Nancy Burson, and an unidentified artist from 18th-century Cuzco, Peru. Curated by Jason Foumberg.
Networked Nature is an exhibition of 21 Digital & Media artworks from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation’s collection that connect with nature’s creative energy. Using the science of organisms, communities, and ecosystems, each artwork is programmed to simulate natural patterns of life. Recent ecological research reveals how groups of trees, fungus, insects, and animals communicate with electrochemical signals across vast networks. These discoveries provide artists with biological models on which to generate their technological artworks. Networked Nature features artists’ pioneering approaches to artificial intelligence, machine learning, real-time software, custom algorithms, and virtual environments. As a group, the artworks offer a vision of humanity remade in the image of nature.
Artists include Nancy Burson, Jim Campbell, Daniel Canogar, Guillermo Galindo, Ja’Tovia Gary, John Gerrard, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Gary Hill, Madeline Hollander, Christian Marclay, Bruce Nauman, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Martin Reinhart & Virgil Widrich, Miguel Ángel Rios, Peter Sarkisian, Hiraki Sawa, Elias Sime, Sommerer & Migonneau, Jennifer Steinkamp, Siebren Versteeg. Curated by Jason Foumberg.
An art collection is like a time capsule—we collect objects in order to protect the past while imagining how they serve the future. To future generations, the art and artifacts of our era will represent the turns of our existence, survival and mastery. The works on view in Message from Our Planet use the abstract languages of geometry, light and code to convey their messages, demonstrating a human desire to communicate deeply yet be understood universally. These works have been brought together for their vivid worldviews.
Message from Our Planet is organized like an interstellar time capsule, inspired by NASA’s Golden Record (an LP curated with human achievements like math and Mozart) beamed to outer space on Voyager I in 1977. Will others be inspired by our achievements and model themselves on our masterpieces like the Romans did the ancient Greeks? Will there be a museum dedicated to the Information Age? How will our messages be received?
Artists included: Daniel Canogar, R. Luke DuBois, Sarah Frost, Guillermo Galindo, John Gerrard, Leon Harmon, Jenny Holzer, Kenneth Knowlton, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Christian Marclay, Manfred Mohr, Peter Sarkisian, and Siebren Versteeg.
The artists in Abstract Art in the Digital Era looked to emerging digital technologies to pioneer new types of abstract art. Many first worked with conventional art materials and later discovered creative coding to introduce new methods of precision, automation, and experimentation into their practices.
Artists included: Victor Vasarely, Frederick Hammersley, June Harwood, Leo Villareal, and Lee Mullican.
The Algorists features a room dedicated to a group of artists who code their own software to produce computer-assisted drawings. They began working at the dawn of modern computing in the 1960s. In 1995 Jean-Pierre Hébert adapted the mathematical term and wrote the Algorist manifesto, as code, to identify a broader artistic community. An algorithm is a set of mathematical instructions that can be carried out by a computer, especially when they are complex beyond human capability. Artist Roman Verostko calls this a “recipe” for creating art. Although algorithmic procedures have been used creatively for centuries, from basket and textile weaving to Islamic mosaic and music notation, the computer provided tools and techniques more precise than traditional hand-made methods.
Artists included: Peter Beyls, Harold Cohen, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Desmond Paul Henry, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake, Roman Verostko, and Mark Wilson.
The thematic installation Digital Artifacts brings together the work of five internationally renowned artists to consider contemporary digital culture in a wholly new way—from the perspective of future archaeologists uncovering its remnants. Featuring new and recent acquisitions from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, the exhibition emphasizes the material aspects of technology in a field that increasingly prioritizes simulated experiences in immaterial spaces, as in online communities or multi-player video games. Bucking the trend toward rapid acceleration that structures most exhibitions of its kind, Digital Artifactspauses to ask why technology defines our future, and what we can learn by looking to our past.
Artists Guillermo Galindo, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Casey Reas, Michal Rovner, and Josh Tonsfeldt imagine our present moment as that past, adapting the conventions of collecting, preservation, documentation, and display more often associated with natural history museums than high tech.
Eye Contact: Portraits in the Global Age brings together works from the Foundation’s diverse collections of art of the Spanish Americas and digital art for the first time. Eye Contact considers portraiture as a sociological art in which the notion of personhood is subjected to the vicissitudes of globalism. While portraits are commissioned and created to commemorate individual identity, they are repositories—at times unwittingly—of the sociopolitical forces around them: world trade, colonialism, or advances in technology.
The three artworks on view span more than two centuries, from 1776 to 2015, and include Robert Wilson’s video portrait of Lady Gaga in the guise of early nineteenth-century French aristocrat Caroline Riviere, styled in accordance with the famous painting of Riviere by Jean Auguste Dominque Ingres; Andrés Solano’s Portrait of Ana Josepha de Castañeda y de la Requere from 1776; and Daniel Rozin’s Selfish Gene Mirror, in which viewers temporarily become the subject via a small camera and Rozin’s customized “Darwinian” algorithm.
TRANSFER Download opened Summer 2018 at Art House in concert with the Santa Fe’s Currents New Media and Futurition festivals. The exhibition features new digital artworks by fifteen international artists showcased in an interactive display chamber called a hyperspace. Visitors can select artworks to view from a menu within an immersive projection area.
TRANSFER Download brings together the latest generation of artists engaging with powerful technologies of 3D animation software, gaming engines, and algorithmic simulation, includingAES+F, LaTurbo Avedon, Carla Gannis, Claudia Hart, Rollin Leonard, Alex McLeod, Lorna Mills, Harvey Moon, Sabrina Ratté, Rick Silva and Nicolas Sassoon, Phillip David Stearns, Daniel Temkin, Theo Triantafyllidis, Lu Yang, and Snow Yunxue Fu.
Second Skin proposes that an artwork’s surface is an interface (to use a digital metaphor) or a membrane (to use a biological one) created to express a shared, social identity. Bringing together artworks in a range of media from 1970 through 2017, including costumes, flags, paint on canvas and digital illusions, Second Skin shows how virtual selfhood is communicated and manifest in material, real time and place.
Artists included: Daniel Canogar, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave, Harold Cohen, Guillermo Galindo, John Gerrard, Matilde Pérez, Jon Rafman, Elias Sime, and Kenneth Young.
Color Games features six artworks with color palettes generated by random processes—including computer algorithms, user participation, and the element of chance—across six decades of hard-edge, kinetic and digital art. The use of chance as a creative strategy liberates artists from the formal rules of art and generates serendipitous art encounters. Color Games includes paintings by California Hard-Edge artist Karl Benjamin, Op artist John Goodyear, Victor Vasarely—who allowed collectors to choose his sculpture’s design with a do-it-yourself sticker package—and digital artists Jason Salavon and Leo Villareal.
Artists included: Carl Benjamin, John Goodyear, Jason Salavon, Victor Vasarely, and Leo Villareal.
Cyberbodies explores the ways in which emerging technologies extend, distort, and disrupt how bodies—especially women’s—are viewed as objects of desire in digital culture. The technologies include interactive videodisc and touchscreen, a pre-internet Minitel system, and customized generative software. On view are works by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Eduardo Kac, and Ken Knowlton and Leon Harmon (Experiments in Art and Technology).
Code as Form is a presentation of visual, optical, and abstract art generated from biometric data, acoustic signals, music and Morse Code, revealing data itself to be a wellspring of artistic forms. Works by Guillermo Galindo, video art pioneers Beryl Korot and Steina Vasulka, Brigitte Kowanz, Vera Molnar, and Laura Splan are included.
Shadow and Space brings together painting and sculpture in which artists use unconventional materials to find new forms. Inspired by the Light & Space movement of Southern California in the 1960s, the exhibition dovetails on that genre’s innovative use of lighting effects for the purpose of producing optically sensitive content. For the artists in this exhibition, atmospheric phenomena such as ambient light, shadow, translucent plastic, reflected color, as well as industrial materials like nails and moving parts, were used to evolve the expressive range of abstraction.
The exhibition features a fluorescent installation by Robert Irwin, shaped canvas paintings by Frank Stella and Manfred Mohr, a sculptural work by Anne Truitt, and a fluorescent sculpture created by Dan Flavin.
Artists included: Peter Alexander, John Goodyear, Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Manfred Mohr, Frank Stella, Luis Tomasello, Anne Truitt, and Günther Uecker.
This micro-exhibition of six contemporary digital artworks reveals what happens to obsolete, aging or antiquated communications technologies after artists resuscitate them. The artworks propose that creative interventions in mass media such as the internet, film, television and music recordings can emulate the power structures of mass-media communications, but also their ephemerality.
Artists included: Guillermo Galindo, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Eduardo Kac, Matthew Kluber, Jon Rafman, and Jason Salavon.
This small exhibition of six bamboo vessels highlights the breadth of the Thoma Bamboo Art collection. Including historic vessels, contemporary vessels, and contemporary sculptures, the artworks illustrate different technical challenges to the artists and their push to build on the foundations of the art form.
Artists included: Hayakawa Shōkosai I, Tanaka Kyokushō, Fujinuma Noboru, Ōki Toshie, Tanabe Kōchikusai, and Mimura Chikuhō.
Mouse in the Machine: Nature in the Age of Digital Art features fifteen digital and software-based artworks by twelve artists from the Thoma art collection to examine the intersection of technology and nature. Using customized software and code, the artworks simulate lifelike biological and ecological systems to emulate the passage of time, seasons and lifecycles.
The exhibition features a video art aquarium by Nam June Paik, realtime generative computer animations by John Gerrard and Marina Zurkow, an interactive augmented reality conveyor belt by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and drawings produced by the world’s first and most successful artificially intelligent painting machine, created by Harold Cohen.
Artists included in the exhibition are Jim Campbell, Daniel Canogar, Harold Cohen, John Gerrard, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, James Nares, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Alan Rath, Daniel Rozin, Stephen Wilkes, and Marina Zurkow.
This thematic exhibition begins with the fact that geometric shapes have visual power, but it does not end there. The phrase Power Geometry, adapted from globalism studies, is based on the premise that artists have the power to maneuver cultural narratives into visual form. Geometric abstraction, as a picture making strategy, is often imbued with histories of social rescue and resistance, under the cover of symbolic shapes and colors. This exhibition serves to illuminate the embedded social, political, cultural and historical narratives that drive abstract picture structures. Power Geometry draws from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s collection of mid-century abstract painting and contemporary digital art. The Foundation’s holdings, diverse and international in scope, provide an opportunity to rethink traditional themes in art.
Some of the social histories ingrained in the abstract artworks include Frank Stella’s conceptual appropriation of a destroyed Polish synagogue into his monumental shaped canvas for the Polish Village series; John McLaughlin’s inspiration from Zen Buddhism to create minimalist visual statements; and Judy Chicago’s feminist borrowing of a historically male-dominated craft, autobody spraypaint, in order to shift gender dynamics in the art world. These and other examples highlight the ways that artists advocate for social awareness through their chosen media.
LUMINOUS FLUX 2.0: New + Historic Works from the Digital Art Frontier is the second iteration, and a refresh, of the original exhibition at Art House, an exhibition space in Santa Fe, New Mexico, dedicated to sharing works from the Thoma Foundation collections. The exhibition features technological artworks from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation collection spanning over fifty years of the digital art genre, including computer, light-based and electronic artworks from pioneering experimenters and contemporary innovators, such as a film quilt by Sabrina Gschwandtner, an internet-based painting automaton by Siebren Versteeg, and Leo Villareal’s animated LED sequence. Luminous Flux 2.0 is curated by Jason Foumberg, Thoma Foundation curator.
With the digital boom, artists immediately grasped the potential of electronic media, often before it became commercially available. They applied cutting-edge computer engineering and software coding skills—such as algorithms, circuits, digital video, Internet search engines and interactive biometrics—in order to create visual expressions.
The earliest works in the exhibition, drawings from the 1960s by Desmond Paul Henry, made use of a pre-digital analog computer. The artistic impulse to collaborate with machines continued through the 1970s with Jean-Pierre Hébert’s precisely coded algorithmic drawings, and into the present as digital media becomes more ubiquitous and complex. A special focus of this exhibition is how artists create images and visual experiences in the digital age. As many of these artworks heighten or alter perception using new technologies such as LEDs, custom-built circuits, and the virtual world within the computer screen, it can be said that artists invent new ways of seeing.
The title and concept of Luminous Flux comes from physics; it is the measure of light energy, or brilliance, perceived by the human eye from a light source. The exhibition adapts this term in order to highlight the interactive experience of engaging optically stimulating artworks. In other words, the artwork is complete when a viewer experiences it.
Artists included in the exhibition are Jim Campbell, Craig Dorety, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Desmond Paul Henry, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath, Peter Sarkisian, Björn Schülke, John F. Simon Jr., Anne Morgan Spalter, Siebren Versteeg, and Leo Villareal.
Luminous Flux, the inaugural exhibition at Art House in Santa Fe, NM, features innovative computer, digital, interactive, video and electroluminescent art from the Foundation’s collection, including stimulating works by Leo Villareal, Jim Campbell, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Manfred Mohr, Anne Morgan Spalter, John F. Simon, Jr., Daniel Canogar, Sarah Frost, Teo González, Howard Mehring, Paul Reed, Jason Salavon, Peter Sarkisian, Björn Schülke, Federico Solmi and Roman Verostko.
Over the past 30 years, Carl and Marilynn Thoma have built a diverse collection dedicated to several major art movements, one being contemporary artists who embrace emerging technologies. The Thomas believe that electronic and digital art reflect the essence and progress of contemporary culture. Luminous Flux showcases significant artworks from computer and light art pioneers, as well as their optically radiant precursors in abstract painting from the 1960s. The evolution of algorithm-based visual art, from Op Art through today’s creative expressions of software, is a story not often told in art history. Notable in this exhibition are the artists who have mastered the craft of computer art, its circuitry, and coding, as an extension of the rule-based painting systems that dominated geometric art in the twentieth century.
Artworks chosen from the Foundation’s collection shed light on topics such as color perception, the abstraction of the human body via digital media, the computerization of drawing practices and the occasional anxiety induced by rapidly changing technology. In sum, the exhibition is intended to inspire viewers to think about life in the digital era.
The Light and Space movement (originated in the 1960s) coincided with the development of digital technology and modern computer programming, and in recent years artists have adapted hi-tech processes in greater pursuit of altering a viewer’s perception using subtle or profound shifts in color, scale, luminosity and spatial illusion.
Light/Space/Code: How Real and Virtual Systems Intersect reveals the evolution of Light and Space art in the context of emerging technologies over the past half century. The exhibit begins by identifying pre-digital methods of systems-style thinking in the work of geometric and Op painters, when radiant pigments and hypnotic compositions inferred the power of light. Then, light sculpture introduces the medium of light as an expression of electronic tools. Finally, software-generated visualizations highlight advanced work in spatial imaging and cyberspace animation. Several kinetic and interactive works extend the reach of art into the real space of viewer participation.
A key sub-plot of Light/Space/Code concerns the natural world and its ecology. Since the Light and Space movement is an outgrowth of a larger environmental art movement (i.e., Earthworks), and its materials are directly drawn from natural phenomena, Light and Space artists address the contemporary conditions of organisms and their habitation systems on this planet. This conceptual step from systems art to ecosystems is important. Toward this end, artists have harnessed nature as a tool and theme, including gravity (Morris Louis), fire (Spencer Finch), flora (Jennifer Steinkamp), wind (Robert Rauschenberg), soil (John Gerrard), the cosmos (Leo Villareal and Alfred Jensen) and humankind (Jim Campbell).
Visual art and the natural sciences have long produced fruitful collaborations. Even Isaac Newton’s invention of the color wheel (of visible light spectra) has aided visual artists immensely. Artists and scientists share a likeminded inquiry: how we see. Today’s art answers that question in tandem with the expanded scientific fields of computer engineering, cybernetics, digital imaging, information processing and photonics.