Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Vera Molnar, 99, Progenitor of Digital Art Dies

Vera Molnar, a Hungarian-born artist who has been called the godmother of generative art for her pioneering digital work, which started with the hulking computers of the 1960s and evolved through the current age of NFTs, died on Dec. 7 in Paris. Her death was announced on social media by the Pompidou Center in Paris, which is scheduled to present a major exhibition of her work in February. Ms. Molnar had lived in Paris since 1947.

While her computer-aided paintings and drawings, which drew inspiration from geometric works by Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee, were eventually exhibited in major museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, her work was not always embraced early in her career.
“Vera Molnar is one of the very few artists who had the conviction and perseverance to make computer-based visual art at a time when it was not taken seriously as an art form, with critics denouncing the emergent form since they did not believe that the artist’s hand was evident in the work,” Michael Bouhanna, the global head of digital art at Sotheby’s, wrote in an email.

Vera Gacs was born on Jan. 5, 1924, in Budapest. She found early artistic influence from an uncle who was a “Sunday painter,” as she put it in a 2012 interview. Ms. Molnar went on to study art history and aesthetics at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, where she met her future husband, François Molnar, a scientist who at times collaborated with her on her work. After Ms. Molnar graduated in 1947, the couple moved to Paris, where she began her art career and found herself mingling in cafes with prominent abstract artists, like Victor Vasarely, Fernand Léger and Wassily Kandinsky, who also brought a geometric sensibility to their work.

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