Molnar (b. 1924 Budapest, Hungary) studied art history and aesthetics at the Budapest College of Fine Arts before moving to Paris in 1947 meeting Constructivist artists such as Jesus Rafael Soto and Victor Vasarely who shared an interest in exploring compositions based on simple geometric shapes and themes.
A co-founder of GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel), 1960, including Julio le Parc and Francois Morellet, they investigated collaborative approaches to mechanical and kinetic art. Molnar was always fixated on geometric forms and creating system-based art. ‘My life is squares, triangles, lines. I am mad about lines.’
Pre-dating the computer, she invented algorithms or “machine imaginaire” that created images by following a set of pre-ordained compositional rules creating colourful abstract geometric works. Her breakthrough came in 1968 when she gained access to a computer at a research lab after teaching herself the early programming language of Fortran and could now program endless variations of algorithms through a machine. A laborious process, Molnar, using a language of 0s and 1s, fed the commands into the computer on punched cards or paper tape which were then outputted to a plotter which conveyed the image directly to paper via a moving pen or pencil. This method allowed her to investigate endless variations in geometric shape and line.
For her computer works, Molnar participated in the now legendary exhibitions Konkrete Kunst, Zurich, 1960, mounted by Max Bill and Cybernetic Serendipity at the ICA, London, 1968. Recent exhibitions include; MOMA New York, Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989, Artistes & Robots at the Grand-Palais, Paris and Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers at the Victoria & Albert Museum; all in 2018.
Vera Molnár lives and works in Paris, France.