1963 Drawing by Computer Art Pioneer D.P.Henry

£1,650.00

Known as one of the pioneers of the British Computer Art genre, Desmond Paul Henry (1921-2004) worked with old analogue WW2 Sperry aircraft bomb computers which he converted into a form of mechanical plotter. Henry’s work was exhibited widely during the 1960s and 70s and he also took part in the groundbreaking ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’ Exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1968. Over the last decade there has been a well deserved revived appreciation of his art and place in the early history of the Computer Art Scene. Several of Henry’s drawings are held at the V&A Museum .

This is a nice early example from his first Drawing machine and is signed and dated in the corner. It is  executed in coloured biro on paper with aqua wash details and comes in its original period mount and oak frame. All we have done is replace the glass with specialist anti-UV and anti-glare glass to help preserve it into the future (for his later machines Henry himself would change from biro to ink pen because he was worried the biro might fade).

There are a few light age spots and some darkening to the paper but otherwise is still quite vibrant. The two small white rectangles seen on the corners of the image are permanent marks where the sun has not aged the paper probably due to something covering it.

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Description

While most of the early pioneering computer artists were scientists learning to manipulate the giant mainframe computers they worked on during the day, Henry was different and chose to work with analogue computers instead. During the 1950s he bought himself an old WW2 Sperry Co. bomb sight computer (widely known as the first true analogue computers) then set about modifying it into a sort of plotter.

By constantly finely adjusting the different dials and settings Henry was able to produce his fantastically expressionist artworks. Not a quick process, each drawing would take between 2 hours and several days to complete. His work is a genuine fusion between man and machine and he has commonly been called the Picasso of Mechanical Art. Unlike his digital programming counterparts whose work would be achieved with robotic uniformity (provided they got their codes right), Henry’s work was also somewhat ground-breaking as he actively accepted and integrated the element of uncertainty into his drawings. Tiny flexes or mis-adjustments could send the pen off in its own direction, and it is this spontaneity that makes Henry’s images so appealing and lively to the viewer.


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