Charles A. Csuri: Contemplation

  • ©,





Creation Year:



    Oil paint on canvas


    76 x 127 cm (30 x 50 in)



Artist Statement:

    Created in 1964, Contemplation acknowledges Csuri’s dual sources of artistic inspiration and experimentation, his fine arts training and the potential of technology. During the advent of applied computer science, there was only one computer available for the entire Ohio State University campus. As a result, Csuri found himself in dialogue with scientists more frequently than with fellow artists. Part of a series of works experimenting with imagery and technology, Contemplation delineates Csuri’s break from art constrained by paint and canvas.

    Contemplation’s skewed lines were inspired, rather than created, by the pantograph device’s capabilities and denote the incursion of the computer into the realm of Csuri’s artistic sensibilities. What follows this experimentation was decidedly different. In essence, the dramatic shift in artistic tool sets, furnished by science, acted as the impetus for a new understanding of surface representation.

    In Contemplation, Csuri first sketched a pencil line drawing on the stretched and gessoed canvas. Next, he used oil paint and created the defining lines by hand. The proportions of the man are subjected to transformations inconceivable in nature. A depiction of the same male figure, to the right of transformed renderings, is also rendered in Csuri’s original media of paint. In stark contrast to the pantograph-derived figures in the After the Artist series, however, Csuri’s thickly applied pigments give the male figure depth and form, allowing it to penetrate the third dimension.

    This work, made concurrently with the After the Artist series, marks a significant transitional period in Csuri’s artistic career. It demonstrates that he was beginning to conceive of the transformative possibilities that the computer offered. Although they are similar in their formal properties, Contemplation is distinct from the works contained in the After the Artist series, insofar as the subject matter does not allude to master works in the history of art. Rather, we see a seemingly ordinary man situated in the modern era, as indicated by his collared shirt and tie. Here, Csuri does not invoke the works of past masters, or the limitations of brush and palette. With Contemplation, Csuri shifts into a new phase of artistic development. Although he continues to be influenced by the history of art, from this point forward, Csuri will use the computer to revolutionize the ways in which artists negotiate representation of their world.