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Herbert W. Franke

MATH ART (1980-1995)

LED Light Box
100 x 100 cm
39.4 x 39.4 in

For holders of Herbert W. Franke's historic 2022 MATH ART NFT collection, EXPANDED.ART is pleased to offer the physical counterpart in the form of a Lightbox. Franke has always envisioned his MATH ART series to be displayed in this way, light and bright and strong colors, Francisco Carolinum in Linz made it possible for the first time for his solo show VISIONARY in 2022.

Payable in ETH.


Known as a universal genius, Herbert W. Franke (1927-2022) is the forefather of computer art, co-founder of Ars Electronica, mastermind of the Metaverse, and science-fiction writer. He spent his entire career bridging the worlds of art and science.

EXPANDED.ART represents the estate of Herbert W. Franke. 


In 1980, Herbert W. Franke began a fifteen-year collaboration with programmer Horst Helbig at the German Aerospace Center. Together, they studied mathematical disciplines in relation to aesthetics. The series MATH ART is the output of their research at the intersection of science and art. It reveals a universe of numbers transformed into images through a variety of shapes and colors reminiscent of Pop Art. 

Throughout his entire life, Herbert W. Franke used mathematical principles for art experimentation. From the very beginning, it was clear to him that it is the artist's mission to examine new technologies and their social significance through the lens of their creative potential. For Herbert W. Franke mathematics are the essence of visual arts. While he saw the artist as an analytical maker using mathematics to create structures, he assigned the computer the task of modulating these principles of order through varying random processes. Franke, therefore, considered the computer as a creative partner for the artist very early on.

The color served to code certain structural elements and was of fundamental importance. The computer system at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen, which was powerful at the time, had integrated output equipment with which the digitally developed image worlds were transferred directly to high-resolution photo film. On his own DOS PC, Franke created the preparatory work for the captivatingly vivid aesthetics of this mathematical investigation.

In the beginning, there were algebraic formulas for three-dimensional spatial areas: The three dimensions were converted into two-dimensional landscapes, whereby the "contour lines," i.e., the z-axis of the room, were color-coded with specially developed color grids. Starting with algebraic landscapes, the two worked their way through a wide variety of disciplines via wave functions, Fourier transformations, broken dimensions, and logical connections, until they finally visualized complex and irrational numbers as well as random processes and logical connections with their method.