George Cramer: Pioneer of Computer Art. Computer assisted art from the 1980’s through 2004In 1988 an exhibit titled "CRASH” (ComputeR AssiSted Hardcopy) was presented at The University of Wisconsin - Madison. This was the first ever international computer art exhibit. The intent was to show how the computer was being used by artists to produce prints, drawings and paintings, then a relatively new art form. Among the featured artists were George Cramer, Manfred Mohr, Barbara Nessim, Lillian Schwartz, Joan Truckenbrod and Roman Verostsko.
The current exhibit features the work of George Cramer (1938-2004). His discovery of the potential of the computer as an art-making tool in 1986 revolutionized his thinking about art, and led to his being named head of the 3-D area in the UW-Madison's art department. His classes in three-dimensional computer art and virtual reality galvanized dozens of students annually. A selection of his unique monoprints and limited edition prints from 1987-1997 are on view.
About The Artist (Taken from University of Wisconsin Obituary on Cramer)
"As a studio artist, Cramer's early studio practice was focused in sculpture. However, as a true renaissance artist he became a watercolorist, painter, printmaker, and computer artist. Throughout his career, Cramer’s work had been grounded by his personal conviction that art has a function in society, that collective dreams can be realized through art making. This belief permeates his work as a creative artist and his teaching. His prints investigate the unknown. Whereas the public works engage with community, the prints are a more private pursuit. Whether working realistically or abstractly, Cramer always looked at nature, changing the scale, the frame, or the focus, physically and temporally, in order to draw attention to the unseen."
The digital medium is an essential part of the inspiration for his art, integral to the development of idea, imagery, and composition.
I. The smaller Cramer images that we show are works done with the help of an early Amiga 2500 computer and with the earliest ink-jet printer - a Xerox 4020 - now long extinct. Printed on Japanese rice paper and chine collaged onto Arches paper, they are unique (almost all are mono prints or monotypes) - no editions of these.
II. The 1993 - 1997 ink jet prints are on 16"x20"Arches watercolor paper using Graphic Outdoor Inks. The subject matter reflects the integration of nature and technology.
III. Tandem Press Images
The computer images are also sometimes out-put to commercial establishments to produce very large format film for prints such as those done by Cramer from 1987 at Tandem Press of the University of Wisconsin. The prints often require four hours or more to hand roll the image onto the plate with ink of one color at a time. They often require more then six colors to correspond successfully with the computer developed image and require four or five assistants and a Master Printer to execute. I have been informed that this process was one of the first successful attempts to transfer computer-assisted images in this way to art formatting
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