Agnes Denes


Membership Dates:



"In my work everything, including symmetry, is created through a conscious use of instinct, intellect and intuition. When I visualize (give form to) processes such as math and logic, or when I apply X-ray technology and electron microscopy to organic and crystal structures, one might say I reveal well-defined symmetries and anti symmetries. When I deal with abstract concepts definitions blur and the symmetries go beyond ordinary mathematical confines."

Agnes Denes is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of Land Art and an innovator in ecological thinking as applied to Contemporary Art. With works such as “Wheatfield—A Confrontation” and “Rice/Tree/Burial,” she reimagines humankind’s relationship to the Earth and outlines models of symbiotic, responsible and sustainable living for future generations. Her ventures into building bridges of communication between future and present day Earth reveals a complex mind concerned not just with the land itself, but the dialectical relationships between mathematics, philosophy, deep ecology, and other sciences. Her exploration of these many different fields of thought coalesce into a practice of ontological thinking in her work that transcends any attempt at neat categorization, rightfully placing her amongst those artists who have pushed art past its boundaries into uncharted yet exciting territories.

Agnes Denes was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1931. To escape Nazi occupation, Denes and her family moved to Sweden in the mid 40s, and later relocated to the United States. The repeated moving and challenges of the language barrier caused her to seek solace in visual art, and she would eventually go on to study painting at the New School and Columbia University in New York. Feeling limited by both the vocabulary of painting as well as insufficient attempts at categorizing her early work, Denes made the transition to land art and other mediums. Denes has shown in more that 450 galleries and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, and has earned fellowships at the Carnegie Mellon University, and the Courant Institute at N.Y.U. Denes, conscious of the casual disrespect encountered by women in both the arts and sciences, became of founding member of A.I.R. in 1972, thus immersing herself in a space where her intellect would not be disregarded due to her gender.



Photo Credit: Judy Cooper

Photo Credit: Judy Cooper

Where to Find Her Work:

American Academy in Rome

Art Institute of Chicago, IL

Bates Museum of Art, ME

Boulder Museum of contemporary Art, CO

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Denver Art Museum, CO

Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Musée du Petit Format, Belgium

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

National Museum of American Art, D.C

New Mexico Museum of Art, NM

Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, LA

Smithsonian Institution, D.C.

The Museum of Modern Art, NY

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Whitney Museum of American Art, NY