Grids & Gradients: The Visual Systems of Vernon Pratt
Exhibition: August 21 through November 9, 2018
Drawn primarily from the collection of the WCU Fine Art Museum, this exhibition brings together a selection of recently-acquired paintings by Vernon Pratt, an artist who worked at the intersection of art and mathematics. Pratt took a systematic approach to his creative process, often exploring the rich array of possibilities within a given set of parameters.
The paintings on view focus on two of Pratt’s characteristic elements—the grid and the gradient. Math activities for both college-age and middle-school students will be developed in conjunction with the exhibition to help illuminate the connections between art and math that permeate Pratt’s work.
Vernon Pratt (1940-2000) lived and worked in Durham, NC and was passionate about the interrelationship of math, music, and art. He taught in the Art Department at Duke University for over 30 years, developing a particular form of abstraction, which he termed “systematic abstraction.” In the late 1960s, he adopted the motto that “simple is complicated enough,” and began limiting his palette to black, white, and gray. This led him to explore the visual potential of grayscale gradients in his paintings, and he developed a fascination with incremental form, using each canvas to create a series of visual transformations with colors, shapes, or words. His work is informed by the art of the Russian Constructivists, 1960s Minimalism, and Conceptual Art, including the work of Sol LeWitt, who was one of his close friends.
The exhibition runs through Friday, November 9. The WCU Fine Art Museum is free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday 10-4PM and Thursday 10-7PM. Free parking is available on site.
Vernon Pratt, Buy/Sin, 1996, enamel on linen, 84 x 82.75 inches, WCU Fine Art Museum Collection, Gift of Trinity Findlay and John Pratt.