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Coordinates

June 6, 2015 – August 23, 2015

Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Untitled, from the Corner Series, 1974. Watercolor, 15 x 14⅞ inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through funds from Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Renfert.
overview

Coordinates draws upon the museum’s permanent collection to examine the use of number in modern and contemporary art. The word “coordinates” refers to a set of numbers that locates a point on a plane or in space. Its function is determinative. Numbers are for counting, measuring, labeling, coding, and theorizing on reality. Galileo, the father of modern physics, famously declared that “Nature is writ in number.” Components of larger systems, numbers had their origin in ancient Mesopotamia and became foundational elements in mathematics and its various branches, including arithmetic and geometry. They have been critical to the symbolic languages of philosophy, religion, and the sciences that attempt to describe the underlying, often mystical, nature of reality. Numbers have also had a major place in the history art. They have shaped proportional systems for renderings of the human figure, architectural designs, and the world around us—both visible and invisible.