Distinguished Artist Award

The Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art is presented annually to an artist who has created a substantial and important body of work that significantly advances aesthetic content in the field of digital art.

Current Recipient

Vera Molnár

The 2022 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artists Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art is presented to Vera Molnár for her many pioneering computational art techniques engaging human sensitivity in the production of her abstract geometrical artworks.

Molnár, born in Hungary, is a pioneer of digital art and one of the founding figures of computational, generative, and algorithmic art. Her work has inspired generations of artists, historians, curators, and researchers over the past five decades. 

Since 1959, before her work with computers, Molnár was already working with systems and simple programs by hand. She said: ‘In order to process my research series in a systematic way, I initially applied a technique I called machine imaginaire. I imagined I had a computer. I created a program and then, step by step, I realized simple, limited series which were self-contained, and thus did not skip any shape combinations.’

As the only female founding member of GRAV (Group de Recherche d’Art Visuel), from 1961 to 1968 Molnár perfected her geometric language, complementing it with a systematic gesturalism.

Molnár programmed her artistic output through algorithms that became truly mechanical in 1968. Each work in her series Computer Drawings is different from the others, with segments, dots, and shapes responding only to the set of parameters that had been entered. These drawings stem from the dialogue between human and machine, and by playing with the equilibrium of this strange conversation, Molnár renders the former more adept and the latter more sensitive.

This balance of “randomness and redundancy,” as digital scholar Dr. Aline Guillermet wrote in her paper “Vera Molnar’s Computer Paintings ,” became central to Molnar’s exploration of the relationship between painting and computer programming.

Currently, Molnár is exhibiting a set of computer drawings from the 1970s at the prestigious 2022 Venice Biennale of Art. At 98 she is the oldest artist participating in the Biennale. She collaborated with Dr. Francesca Franco to create the ICÔNE 2020 glass works now also in an official Venice Biennale collateral exhibition.

Since the 1990s, her work has been featured in major international solo and group exhibitions and is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Centre Pompidou. In 2018 she received the AWARE Outstanding Merit Award from the French Ministry of Culture acknowledging leading female figures in the world of culture.

We are honored to add to her list of accolades, the 2022 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artists Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art for her many pioneering computational art techniques engaging human sensitivity in the production of her abstract geometrical artworks.

Vera Molnár, 2018 Photo credit: Galerie Oniris, Rennes, France

Previous Recipients

  • 2021 William Seaman
  • 2020 Jeffrey Shaw
  • 2019 Donna Cox
  • 2018 Monika Fleischmann
  • 2017 Ernest A. Edmonds
  • 2016 Steina Vasulka
  • 2015 Lillian Schwartz
  • 2014 Harold Cohen
  • 2013 Manfred Mohr
  • 2012 Jean-Pierre Hébert
  • 2011 Charles Csuri
  • 2010 Yoichiro Kawaguchi
  • 2009 Lynn Hershman Leeson
  • 2009 Roman Verostko

Criteria

  • The artist has been contributing internationally to the digital arts for more than 20 years.
  • The artist has produced important work(s) referenced in digital art history/theory papers/books.
  • The artist has established an unexplored area in the field of digital art/media art.
  • The artist has been advancing the use of digital technologies in creative expression.
  • The artist has contributed to the history and/or theory and/or practice of digital art through writing and presentations at conferences and symposia.

Nomination Procedure

ACM SIGGRAPH members are invited to nominate individuals for the Distinguished Artist Award by contacting the Artist Award Chair by January 1 each year. Nominations for the Distinguished Artist Award are evaluated by the Art Award Committee, and should include as much information about the nominee as possible.

Requirements

  • Name(s) of the individual(s) being nominated (address and/or phone number and/or email address are also appreciated).
  • References to web sites showing the artist’s works and texts when applicable (multiple references are welcome).
  • Nominator’s name, address, telephone number, and email address.
  • A statement describing the significance of the artist’s contributions according to the criteria for this award.