August 7, 2019

“Dimensionism” Exhibit Coming to Zimmerli

“SELF PORTRAIT”: This 1944 painting by Helen Lundeberg is featured in “Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein,” running September 3 through January 5 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick. The exhibit brings together paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs, along with poetry and ephemera associated with the Dimensionist movement. (Photo by Peter Jacobs)

Beginning September 3, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers will host the nationally-touring exhibition that explores Dimensionism, an artistic movement tracing the influence of early 20th-century scientific discoveries on some of the era’s most celebrated artists. “Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein” highlights the untold story of the Dimensionist Manifesto, authored by Hungarian poet Charles Sirató in 1936 and calling for an artistic response to groundbreaking scientific discoveries that changed human understanding of the universe.

Organized by Vanja Malloy, formerly curator of American Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College and now director and chief curator of Syracuse University Art Galleries, the exhibition features some 75 artworks by more than 36 artists, including the manifesto’s signatories — such as Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy — and their contemporaries.

The presentation of “Dimensionism” at the Zimmerli features several additions exclusive to the location. Donna Gustafson, the museum’s curator of American Art and Mellon director for academic programs, has selected works by Jean Arp, Peter Busa, Robert Delauney, Adeline Kent, Gerome Kamrowski, and Man Ray from the Zimmerli’s own collection to augment the traveling exhibition.

The museum also will include its own copy of the epic visual poem Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France (1913) by Blaise Cendrars and Sonia Delaunay. An auxiliary exhibition of Hungarian modernist works highlights the Sirató, his roots in the Hungarian avant-garde, and his evolution from a poet to a theorist who embraced all the arts and envisioned a radical new coalition of creative thinkers. In addition, all labels will be printed in English and Spanish, and bilingual tours will be available.

“Dimensionism” brings together paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs, along with poetry and ephemera associated with the Dimensionist movement. It focuses on art produced during a period of dramatic scientific and social change — primarily from mid-1930s to early 1940s, with a few works created as early as 1915 and as late as 1966 — in both Europe and the United States. Inspired by new conceptions of time and space brought about by advances in mathematics, physics, astronomy, and microbiology, as well as the increasing public awareness of these developments via the mass media, an emerging avant-garde movement sought to expand the “dimensionality” of modern art. The exhibition also features new scholarship that connects the story of these artists, their art, and the manifesto that reflected their new direction.

“The influence of science on some of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century has been largely overlooked,” said Malloy. “While much has been written about the impact of social and political movements on artists, especially in the tumultuous period between the two World Wars, this exhibition is an important opportunity to reconsider art and artists we think we know in a fresh historical framework. When we see their art through the lens of the scientific discoveries that were reshaping popular understanding of the universe around them, their visual interests and impulses can take on a different meaning.”

“Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein” is on view September 3 through January 5. The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers is located at 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call (848) 932-7237.