Vera Molnar is an artist who has developed a large body of work throughout her career. It is essential to focus on the progression of her work over time, and how she formally created her work. More interest is laid in how her work as an early computer artist has progressed throughout her art career. The research will focus more specifically, on how she puts her machine imaginaire to use and applies it to her work. Part of the research would be looking at formal differences between her work and work of other artists who use real, functioning drawing machines. The importance of the in depth comparison will be to compare, contrast and analyze how her made up drawing machine functions comparatively to a real drawing machine. The comparisons would be focused mainly on their compositions also touching on formal aspects like those that the algorithms used to create them.


Digital art, which falls under new media art is a general term used to describe the arts that result from use of technology in their creative and presentation processes. The term is also used to describe an artist who uses technology to in the production of his or her art.[1]  Vera Molnar is one of the best-known initiator of the new media art. In 1959, Vera Molnar developed her machine imaginaire and with it, she created pictures through self-invented algorithms. This she did by creating a program that she used to realize simple partial series, which were independent and did not skip any shape. She is considered one of the pioneers of the Digital Art. By 1968, she was among the first artists who used computers as a medium of making art. Since then she set the mill rolling for other artists and the use of computers by artists started growing at a big rate. A look at some of her works and a comparison to other artists’ work hereby shed more light on the evolvement and growth of new media art.


Vera Molnar was born in 1924 in Budapest, Hungary where she also studied fine arts between 1942 and 1947. She later moved to Paris and was living there by the time she became an established artist. She had tried many ways of introducing randomness in her art over the years. She was however hit by the realization that a human being cannot fully avoid repetitiveness in the patterns and trends. She therefore thought of making a machine that would stand in for the most parts of her work. Her thoughts were that the machine would not encounter the same challenge she had. She imagined a machine that would be capable of trying things randomly without the subjectivity hindrance. The only machine capable of doing all this was a computer but she did not have access to one. The best way of letting her thoughts work was to imagine one. She made the machine imaginaire work by applying strict rules of following what she had imagined.[2]

In 1968, she finally got access to a real computer at Bull Research Centre where she learned Programming. She made the changes to algorithmic works herself by hand and only submitted the computer to work on what she imagined it would accurately do. Since 1959, she has done contemporary works in digital arts over the years. Her work is outstanding in that she uses her own made algorithms to make her works without the use of a computer. She can be spoken of as a good artist who has made some of the best computer artwork without the use of a real computer.

The perspective inversee as seen in Figure 1 is one of Vera Molnar’s works and it was exhibited in an exhibition in Paris in 2009. The painting that can pass well for a wall painting displays the artist’s minimalist esthetic use of two color processes and the geometrical form she employs. The painting is purely in black and white. In her quest to get rid of the culturally mental ready-made images, the artist has used various programmatic and mathematical concepts to create a work that is guided by a unifying pursuit for the invisible. Her work involves a genetic system altering in a stepwise manner affecting the dimensions, arrangements, and proportions of shapes, represented her computer art with flair far in excess of such dry descriptions of her process. [3]

Vera Molnar concentrates her work more on order and structure as observed in figure 2 and figure 3. Her artwork is focused more on basic geometrical elements and less on vocabulary as compared to other artists. She concentrates her work more on geometrical elements for instance the lines, the circles, and the squares. This is mostly noticeable in majority of her works. She uses this forms and means of symmetries and structures to accomplish a full aesthetic effect in her paintings, which give a good form when put on paper too. In figure 2 known as 3 Ronds, 3 Couleurs, nine circles in red, black and brown all touch one another and the margin of the picture is done so perfectly to pass the impression of a square. The artist is very persistent on ordering systems and in most of her works, she puts more concentration on one shape and then follows on the sequence that results from that. The mathematical approach by the artist was what motivated her use of the computer to do the calculations for the systematic art. Using her self-developed computer programs, she redefined how art was viewed before the computer usage. The uniqueness in her work can be derived from her use of geometrical elements from their balance of order and chance.

The artist views the computer as just another tool in the hands of a painter. She only uses the computer to combine forms and does not leave all the work to the computer. The computer assists in the systematic research of the visual realm and helps her to be free from the ready-mades as seen on its screen. This way she is able to create something that has not been seen before. The artists in her statement purported that the computer only helps but does not design or invent any of her works. She stated that her works are geometrical forms in their simplest ways adding that her concepts revolve around the formal rigidity and the parsimony of geometry.[4] One thing is certain in Vera Molnar’s works, refuses to be complacent and considers the medium as a field experience to constantly renew. Her usage of the series and variations of shapes, colors and rhythm contribute greatly to her style. She believes that her works do not contain any elements of symbolic, mystical or metaphysical kind and argues that there is no message sent in the pieces.

Horst Bartnig

Horst Bartnig is a German artist born in 1936. He is mainly a concrete art artist who uses computer graphics in his work. He is said to be a scene painter, a graphic designer and a sculptor. The artist had already started using computers in his work from the early days. His work is however mainly concrete art in series and variations. He therefore seeks the computers to help him do what he had previously been doing without the computers. Just like Vera Molnar, the artist also uses geometric forms in his art, though sequences of numbers dominate his concepts. His artwork is normally color dominated and he likes to maximize the bandwidth of the optical effect of all his paintings for the viewers’ observance. Strong colors and simple geometric shapes are the main noticeable things about his work. The artist works out on conceived series of declensions. He has in the past worked with institutions such as the Central Institute for Nuclear Research and Soviet Mainframe Computers. This exposure of working with physicists, programmers and mathematicians gives him a way of creating complex image sequences. The series that he creates reach to a large number of images that result from the arrangements of the variety of these elements.

The artist relies mostly on computers to do his work. He mainly collaborates with mathematicians and computer programmers to build up his work concepts. The aftermath is always a logical progression, which the concrete artist brings into visibility. His works are much often square shaped and with a mixture of colors and shapes. His way of expression however is not just a visualization of mathematical combinations. Bartnig arranges the forms and does a distribution of colors while at the same time creating images with intense and powerful dynamics and rhythms pleasant to the eye. The same is noticeable in other of his works such as the Interruptions and Compositions in ten colors. In Interruptions, he does it in a way that an omitted line appears visible to the eyes of a viewer. He is considered one of the most important representatives of the concrete art in Germany especially after winning the Hannah Hoch Prize in 2001.

In figure 4, one of Horst Bartnig’s works the thirteen squares, he brings out one large square surrounded by twelve other smaller squares and all are set on a square set in four variations. This representation is in four identical groups of squares as much as the colors are different in the boxes being green, red, and orange and blue, each is given its own surface area. From a mathematical perspective, an equal’s sign would be placed between each of the four main squares because they portray a balance mathematical equation. Bartnig’s works have been displayed in museums in Germany and abroad because of their appealing nature to the viewer’s eyes. His works are mostly in German and international museums and collections like the Berlinischen Gallery National Museum, Art Collection of the Federal Republic of Germany,  Museum for Constructive and Concrete Art in Zurich and the collection of Francisco Chagas Freitas in Brazil. His artistic work is accepted at home and international levels as well and hence the display of his work in the museums. 

Roman Verostko

Roman was born in 1929 in Western Pennsylvania in the United States of America. He in 1970, he received a grant that gave him the chance to work at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at Massachusetts. By this time, he had more interest in computers and the application of the technology in his own artistic work. After thirty years in painting, he started utilizing computer code for creativity. He ventured into executing algorithmic drawings where he could use a pen plotter. In 1987, the artist made the first software driven brushed painting in the world with oriental brushes on a pen plotter. The artist therefore became an algorist. Historically, algorists have been thought of as people who work as mathematicians. It refers to the systematic mathematical procedures for doing any specific calculation. The term was however adopted by the artist together with Jean Pierre in 1995 to apply to artists who produced their arts with the use of algorithmic procedures, which include algorithms. The reference was to stand for who even dated back to 1960s, thus Vera Molnar.

Algorithmic art can be traced back throughout history but its peak was in the 20th Century. The introduction of computers provided the artists with leverage for producing form that had not been present in the art history. The growth of information and science and digital technology contributed greatly to the spread of the algorithmic procedures in the 20th Century. The pioneers of digital art for instance Charles Scuri, Harlord Cohen, Vera Molnar and Herbert Franke were among those who championed the growth of the new form of art. [5]  

Algorithmic works are visual manifestations of the dynamic procedures through which they are made. They are likely to be seen as visual celebrations of the information being processed through the procedures. The complete works are very inviting to the viewer’s eye with their edge of mystery. They are also very visually attractive suppressing beauty and grace. Critics however say that artists who use algorithms are more distant to the real art than the convectional artists are. It is believed that algorists let the computers dictate the limits of their work thereby weakening the self-expression and individuality that is meant to be expressed by the work.

            Roman Verostko however clears these criticisms up by saying that the algorist artists are indeed in charge of their procedures. He asserts that once an artist chooses the procedure to use, he or she articulates a sense of individual sensibility in the process. He insists that no confusion should exist between how the procedures through which artists generate algorithms and procedures through which the algorithms perform their work. The usage of computers guarantees the artists access to already generated graphics. However, for any individual artist to achieve a unique and individually personalized algorithmic style, he or she must customize his or her own software.[6] This can relate in the same way that Vera Molnar made and uses her own algorithms to create her works. What differs is the taste between artists. If any individual artist desires to use a unique algorithm, then it is up to him or her to create it.

Figure 5, The Green Cloud gives an example of Roman Verostko’s work. The drawing was done by pen and ink by a plotter drawing. There is a huge difference between a painting that has been done by hand and that done by a machine. The Green Cloud looks too perfect but lacks the individuality unlike what is expressed in Vera Molnar’s works.


            From the factors considered in the research paper, it is evident that all artists regardless of their time and their preference of art require a well-developed artistic procedure, which they implement in a unique way different from the others to produce their art. From the observations made about Vera Molnar, her works are generally visualized all through and she only consults the use of a computer to do what she is not able to accomplish. She does not rely on the computer for her everyday work. In as much as she uses algorithms in her works, her style is different for other algorists. Her work is focused on geometrical concepts and forms such as the symmetrical shapes of lines, circles and squares. She concentrates more on order and structuring and her use of algorithms is just for creation of a visual image, which she then transfers as an image on paper.

Her initial use of imagination by machine imaginaire, before she got access to a computer, can be attributed to her independent way of working by hand instead of preference to the computers. Her work is different from other artists, for instance, Horst Bartnig who relies mostly on the use of computers to do his work. Although he is a concrete artist, he has to create the images on the computers by consulting his mathematical, programming and physicist personas. His works are mostly based on sequences of numbers and the colors he uses always dominate the paintings. His use of geometry is different and limited as compared to Vera Molnar. In spite of his broad knowledge in programming and mathematics, the artists still prefers to do his works on the computer.

There are also noticeable differences between Vera Molnar’s work and that of other algorists such as Roman Verostko. The latter fully depends on the computers to make his paintings. He even uses pencils or brushes held on plotters. His dependence is fully pegged on the computers and he cannot do it by hand. The two artists might share the knowledge of algorithms but their application and results come out differently. The end results gives a wide difference between a hand done painting and a machine done one. There is a sense of individuality in Vera Molnar’s works, which lack in Roman Verostko’s works. The latter lacks the personal touch and looks like a machine dictated piece of work. Hence, Vera Molnar has maintained the originality of her artistic work over the years despite being an initiator of the digital art. The artist has been true in maintaining the originality and true meaning of arts as much as most new age artists have evolved with the new media arts.


Herber, Mohr, Verostko and Wilson. The American Algorists. Linear Sublime.2013

McCormack, Jon, and Mark D’Inverno. Computers and Creativity. Berlin: Springer, 2012.

Molnar, Vera. “Inconceivable Images”. Digital Art Museum. Accessed December 19, 2013.

Weibel, Peter. Beyond Art: A Third Culture: A Comparative Study in Cultures, Art and Science in 20th Century Austria and Hungary. Wien: Springer Wien, 2005.

List of Figures

Figure 1. Vera Molnar. The Perspective Inversee. Source; e-flux

Figure 2. Vera Molnar 3 Ronds, 3 Couleurs. Source; Museum Ritter  

Figure 3. Vera Molnar Structures de quadrilateres 1986. Source; Field

Figure 4. Horst Bartnig. Thirteen Squares. 1995. Source; Museum Ritter

Figure 5. Roman Verostko. Green Cloud. 2011. Source; The Algorists

[1] Jon, McCormack, and Mark D’Inverno. Computers and Creativity. Berlin: Springer, 2012.

[2] Jon, McCormack, and Mark D’Inverno, Computers and Creativity, (Berlin: Springer, 2012).

[3] Peter, Weibel, Beyond Art: A Third Culture: A Comparative Study in Cultures, Art and Science in 20th Century Austria and Hungary (Wien: Springer Wien, 2005).


[4] Vera, Molnar. “Inconceivable Images” (Digital Art Museum, Accessed December 19, 2013,

[5] Mohr,Herber, Verostko and Wilson, The American Algorists, (Linear Sublime, 2013)

[6] Mohr, Herber, Verostko and Wilson, The American Algorists, (Linear Sublime, 2013).

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