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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary 1971 - 2021

(First compiled and published for the 40th anniversary, 2011)


Manfred Mohr - Computer Graphics
"Une Esthétique Programmée"
Curator: Pierre Gaudibert
ARC - Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11. May - 6. June 1971

Significance of the Show:
Thanks to the incredible foresight of Pierre Gaudibert, the founder and director of ARC, this exhibition became the first one-person show of digital art in a museum.        
Information about the show from the Paris museums archive

In 1970 Pierre Gaudibert, director of Animation-Recherche-Confrontation (ARC) at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, visited the computer center of the Meteorology Institute in Paris, Avenue Rapp, where Manfred Mohr conducted his research in computer graphics. Gaudibert was so impressed by what he saw that he subsequently invited Mohr to prepare a show of his work at the Museum.

It was May 11, 1971 when the ARC - Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris opened the now historic exhibition:

Computer Graphics - Une Esthétique Programmée

An exhibition by Manfred Mohr, featuring for the first time, a one-person show in a museum of works entirely calculated by a digital computer and drawn by a plotter.
The show consisted of:
- 20+ drawings framed and displayed on the wall
- A Benson 1284 drawing machine (plotter) and its magnetic tape drive installed at the museum
- A large white panel, a sort of guest book, where visitors could write comments of whatever they wished to say
- An exhibition catalog printed for this occasion with texts by three authors and 28 drawings, most of which were shown in the exhibition

more history leading to this show

Invitation     Poster

Photos of the opening     Demonstration Plot

Complete exhibition catalog (french/english)

1971 French and German press about the show

  Le Monde, Figaro, Nouvel Observateur etc.

Layout and detailed history of the exhibition

Subsequent history of the drawings from the show

  Museum collections, Algorithms

During the time of the show a large white panel was mounted in the exhibition hall at the Museum, a sort of guest book, where visitors could write whatever they wished to say.

Click on Image for larger view


  • This is Manfred Mohr's first catalog with computer graphics.
  • In this workphase from 1969-1971, Manfred Mohr had the above mentioned exhibition in Paris, which is now regarded as an historic show.
  • It is also his first one-person exhibition in a museum.
  • After having first used the computer at the newly formed University of Paris at Vincennes and having one time access to a light pen plotter at Brookhaven National Laboratory as well as to a Zuse flatbed pen plotter at the University of Darmstadt in 1969, Manfred Mohr was given access to the flatbed pen plotter and computer at the Meteorologie Nationale in Paris. He worked enthusiastically nights and weekends experimenting with the new machines.
  • In this workphase and the next 1974, Manfred Mohr developed many new and different ideas and wrote algorithms to realize them as drawings.
  • Algorithms/Methods from this workphase were: mathematical methods - linear transformations from one form to another to create surfaces, spline functions to create curves, adding (and subtracting) lines to create forms, matrix layout, stretching, shifting to create fuzzy surfaces (vibrations), reflection, negative and positive surfaces, hashed surfaces, overlaying, space defining random walks. Geometric objects - lines of varying thicknesses, curves, circles, squares, cubes. Inventing random electronic circuits, abstract texts, random alphabets, tracing forms with an electronic light pen.
  • In this period, besides the computer generated drawings, he made computer generated collages, sculptures, a random number book, and a model of a room with a drawing of a continuous line traversing its walls.

Other artworks from this period 1969 - 1971

Computer generated random number collages 1969

Computer generated random number wooden sculpture 1969

High resolution light beam plotter drawings 1969

Room with a continuous random line on randomly generated walls 1971

Little Book of Random Numbers 1971

Computer generated algorithmic cubes 1971

© 2011 by Manfred Mohr