+ Jim Campbell on Alan Rath, Rina Banerjee, Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, Cornelius Völker, Rath museum acquisition, art@home, summer dessert
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Issue no. 31
Alan Rath opens Saturday, June 19
Opening Reception: 3-6 pm, limit 75 people per hour
Chinese Stereo, 1994, painted wood, AM/FM/CD, custom electronics, speakers, 83 x 102 x 14 inches
In formally elegant yet winsome sculptures — almost every component of which he designed, machined, and programed himself — Alan Rath explored the relationship between technology and the human body and behavior. In this exhibition, Hosfelt Gallery surveys the 35-year oeuvre of the sculptor and electronic art pioneer, who died in October of 2020 at age 60. Spanning the entirety of the artist’s career and incorporating every type of work he made, this encyclopedic show navigates the breadth of an extraordinary practice. The exhibition is on view from June 19 to July 24.
image courtesy of Klaus Tillman and City Beat Magazine
Beginning in 1985, Rath made work with technical materials like aluminum, steel, wires, and circuitry, in combination with cathode ray tubes displaying computer-generated video animations of body parts — roving eyes, waving hands, or lips with protruding and wagging tongues. Some pieces incorporated found elements like metal cages, wooden crates, or a photographer’s tripod. In all of these early works, their inner workings are, somewhat indecently, exposed.
Tongue-Tied, 1992 (detail), aluminum, steel, electronics, CRT, 64 x 17 x 17 inches
By 1988, he began making sculptures with audio speakers, fascinated more by their motion than their ability to transmit sound; their movement uncannily simulates breathing as they puff, pant, vibrate, wheeze and throb. His passion for numbers led to pieces that endlessly count, or recite π, or function as calendars or clocks. He programmed his robotic works with open-ended algorithms, so the sculptures constantly modify their own choreography. A piece from 1998 successfully anticipated driverless car technology by 20 years.
Wallflower II, 1990, aluminum, custom electronics, speakers, 60 x 86 x 12 inches
Though Rath’s works are revolutionary in their masterful blend of high tech with high art, the technology is always subservient to the form or concept of the sculpture itself. The works possess a charming humility, without a hint of bravado advertising Rath’s unquestionable technical proficiency. Every material and design decision is considered and impeccable. Nothing is there just for looks, yet nothing, no matter how functional, isn’t beautiful.
Irrational Exuberance, 2013, installation view
“Machinery is not unnatural,” Rath said in an interview. “It’s a reflection of the people who make it.”
215 Years in a Box, 1994, wooden box, custom electronics, LEDs, 8 x 11 x 9 inches
Alan Rath was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959 and earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982. While at MIT he took courses within the Architecture Machine Group – the precursor to the Media Lab – and studied with Otto Piene (a co-founder of the Zero art group) at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His early influences include Alexander Calder, David Smith, Robert Moog, Jimi Hendrix, and NASA. In 1983, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, which was his home until his death.
Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose: Virtual Unreality, installation view
Rath’s work has been exhibited extensively worldwide, including a 2019 retrospective exhibition, Virtual Unreality, organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose. Published in conjunction with the show is a catalog raisonné with an accompanying augmented reality application that enables the viewer to animate the robotic sculptures pictured in the book. In 1991 Rath’s work was included in the Whitney Biennial. The same year, he was the subject of a solo exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Center for Fine Art, Miami; and The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu. Other solo museum exhibitions include Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Aspen Art Museum; SITE Santa Fe; and Austin Museum of Art. In 1994 Rath received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship grant. His works are in the collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many others.
image courtesy of Drew Altizer
Jim Campbell Remembers Alan Rath
"I first saw Alan Rath’s work in the mid 1980s – and experiencing it then is one of the main reasons that I’ve made art for the last 30 plus years. Seeing those raw CRTs, bird cages and animated images of body parts was a revelation. All at once his sculptures removed any association to television and video art by having no tv boxes surrounding the cathode ray tubes, no videotape recorders, no cameras, and no broadcast reception. He used memory chips to store the imagery and his CRTs were not even a 4:3 aspect ratio. They were really the first self-contained video-based objects/sculptures, and Alan, an engineer, unique for an artist at that time, designed all of his electronics and made all of the mechanical components of his sculptures.

Running Man On Chinese Stand II, 2015, wood, acrylic, Delrin, Garolite, aluminum, polypropylene, custom electronics, LCD,
23 x 15 x 15 inches
His technique was clear: do it all yourself and don’t hide anything. I met Alan in 1990, when we showed together in the first exhibition I was ever in. We developed a warm and competitive friendship, but mostly it was a nerdy one. When we'd reconnect after not seeing each other for six months, within 30 seconds we’d be talking about the latest microprocessors.
Soon, 2015, aluminum, FR-4, steel, custom electronics, motors, feather, operates within an 11 x 16 x 16 ft volume;
dimensions change continuously
I remember talking to Alan in the '90s about his work Rover, an autonomous robotic sculpture based on the NASA Rovers, that rolls around the room and responds to people in its vicinity. When the vehicle’s batteries run low, it finds the charging station to charge itself. This tiny, hidden aspect of the work was more profound than what any artists at the time were doing with robotics. I asked him about it and why he didn’t have this detail in the wall label description. He said that he simply did it so they wouldn’t have to plug it in to charge it.

Little Pi 200, 1996 (detail views), aluminum, acrylic, custom electronics, LEDs, 14 x 12 x 2 inches
That was so Alan: humble and precise. He didn’t fetishize technology. He meticulously controlled it just like he did with the physical parts of his sculptures. In each of his works, everything was there for a reason. Alan and his work inspired many of us artists. He was a kind and generous soul. We will miss him and the fabulous contraptions that would have been."
- Jim Campbell
Originally published in Millennium Film Journal No. 73 "everywhere."
Scopophiliac, 2001, aluminum, PVC, rubber, custom electronics, LCDs, 48 x 57 x 33 inches
Artist News
Rina Banerjee has been awarded a residency at Art Explora - Cité Internationale des arts in Paris, in the fall/winter of 2021- 2022. The selection committee included Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London; Christine Macel, Head Curator at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and director of the 2017 Venice Biennale; and Philippe Vergne, Director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal.
Cornelius Völker, Stack of Paper, 2019, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 35 3/8 inches
Cornelius Völker: Then We'll Live Later
Lippe Society for Art, Detmold, Germany
20 June – 29 August, 2021
With a distinctive method of handing paint that is simultaneously fluid and precise, Cornelius Völker paints traditional genres – the still life and portraiture – to explore and decode the history of representational painting.
Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, 1072414, 2014, watercolor on paper, 16 x 16 inches
Break + Bleed
San Jose Museum of Art
4 June, 2021– 3 April, 2022

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein is included in Break + Bleed, featuring paintings and works on paper by artists exploring the spirit of post-painterly abstraction through an expansive range of styles including hard-edge abstraction, Color Field painting, Op art, Minimalism, and soft-edge abstraction. Like the break of a line or page and the bleed of various elements beyond the edge or boundary of a certain area, the artworks in Break + Bleed oscillate between ideas of linearity and geometry and overlapping planes of color and form.
Alan Rath, 6 O'Clock, 2011, aluminum, FR-4, PVC, custom electronics, LCDs, 60 x 39 x 22 inches
We are very pleased to announce that Alan Rath's work 6 O'Clock has recently been acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art with the generous support of the Lipman Family Foundation.
New to Inventory
Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, Cobalt Blue Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue Cadmium Red Deep, 2021, watercolor on paper,
12 x 12 inches
Nicole Phungrasamee Fein's new work takes a jubilant leap back into color, exploring the accumulation of increasingly complex hues through layered applications of pigment, with wide-ranging outcomes. Fein will have a solo show at Hosfelt Gallery in December 2021 through January 2022.
Art @ Home
Jim Campbell, image courtesy of Mead Quinn Interiors/Artsource Consulting

Cornelius Völker
Crystal Liu, image courtesy of K Interiors San Francisco
Emil Lukas
We Recommend
Apricot and Almond Tart

For the pastry:
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 ¼ cups flour, plus more as needed
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk

For the frangipane:
7 ounces whole blanched almonds, a bit more than a cup
1 cup light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and scraped, pulp reserved and pod discarded
1 tablespoon flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 medium or 8 small ripe but firm apricots, halved and pitted
Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving.

To make the pastry: in the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, flour and salt. Pulse until the mixture resembles very fine bread crumbs. Add the confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk and 2 tablespoons chilled water, and pulse a few times to bring the mixture together. Pour onto a work surface and knead the dough sparingly until smooth, being careful not to overwork it. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
To make the frangipane: In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl. In the food processor, combine 1 cup brown sugar, butter, and vanilla pulp. Process until light and fluffy, then with motor running add the flour and the eggs. Add the ground almonds and pulse to mix evenly. Set aside at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature and stir before using.

To Assemble:
Lightly flour a cool work surface and roll the pastry into a large disk about 1/4-inch thick. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable base and trim the edge. Chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 325 degrees with a large baking sheet on the middle rack. Spread frangipane in the chilled tart pan, and nestle the apricot halves evenly on top, cut sides up. Sprinkle each half with about 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. Place the tart on the baking sheet and bake until golden and set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top appears to be browning too fast, cover loosely with foil. Trim any baked overflow to loosen the edge of the tart. Press up the bottom of the pan to loosen the sides and cool the tart in the pan on a wire rack. When completely cool, serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream. Voilà!
Hosfelt Gallery is located at 260 Utah St, between 15th & 16th streets. Wheelchair accessible entrance at 255A Potrero Avenue. For more information call 415.495.5454 or visit hosfeltgallery.com.

Open Tuesday through Saturday
To schedule an appointment, call the gallery or sign up online:

Hours: Tu, W, F, Sa 10-5:30, Th 11-7

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260 Utah St
San Francisco CA 94103