Through the Grid of Blurred Lines (2020)

The imaginary machines of LeWitt, Molnar, and Ridler & decoding the materiality of art.

Paper written for the Visiting Fellow in the History of Modern and Contemporary Art Seminar, sponsored by Het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), the Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History (OSK), and the University of Amsterdam (August 2020).

Supervision by Dr. Sophie Berrebi.

I had the honour of taking part in the lectures by visiting fellow Prof. Dr. Sarah Wilson (The Courtauld Institute of Art, UK), art historian, curator, and writer. 

Aim of the seminar was to provide RMA and PhD students with the opportunity to study a single or a cluster of topics in twentieth and twenty-first century art history and become acquainted in the work of a strong and singular voice in the field through an intensive one-week workshop.

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Paper written on materiality in Modern & Contemporary art, by comparing works from LeWitt, Molnar, and Ridler.


A growing number of art critics, theorists and artists are posing questions on art's materiality, especially within the subfield of art, technology & science. This is because materials are no longer deemed as static, inert physicality (Lange-Berndt), but regarded as dynamic agents carrying their own ecologies, web of socio-material structures that subsequently contain changing messages and meaning. This requires a new way of looking at art. Thus, do we currently find ourselves amidst a shift in focus in the theory and methodology of making & researching art? Can we explain this shift, and if so: how? And, what does it mean when one gives agency to the material, follows the material and acts with the material, as Lange-Berndt also questions in the anthology 'Materiality' (Whitechapel Gallery & The MIT Press, 2015)? What artworks, from what artists help in understanding this better? And what role does the immaterial play in these works?

In this paper, I explore the materiality of modern & contemporary art along with the ‘imaginary machines’ that are involved in the work of conceptual artist Sol LeWitt (US, 1928), computer art pioneer Vera Molnar (HU, 1927), and AI artist Anna Ridler (UK, 1985). By following the immateriality of their work, I try to find out and contextualise what materiality has meant for artistic practice & research in the past, and how it links to artistic expression in the present.

Figure 1. Sol LeWitt, Drawing Series in 'Xerox Book' (1968). Image retrieved from

Figure 2. Vera Molnár. Structure de Quadrilatères (Square Structures), 1987. Image retrieved from

Figure 3. Anna Ridler, “Myriad (Tulips)” (ⓒ 2019 Anna Ridler). Image retrieved from