Marking a significant moment in the world of multimedia art, The Henry Ford is set to honor the trailblazing artist Lillian Schwartz with the exhibition, “Lillian Schwartz: Whirlwind of Creativity.” The exhibition, opening on March 25, 2023, and running until January 1, 2024, will be curated by Kristen Gallerneaux, the museum’s curator of communications and information technology.
Notable for her experimental films, animation videos, and computer-aided art analysis, Schwartz emerged as an early pioneer of computer-generated art during the mid-1960s. Her kinetic sculpture “Proxima Centauri” was featured in The Museum of Modern Art’s 1968 exhibition, leading to a fruitful period as a resident artist at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she bridged art, science, and technology.
Speaking on the upcoming exhibition, Gallerneaux commented, “Lillian saw these machines as tools full of possibilities, and yet she always maintained a healthy sense of ‘technological ingratitude’ for their limitations—always seeking more. She was a trailblazing artist who combined digital and traditional mediums as she explored ways to bridge art, science, and technology.”
The Henry Ford acquired Schwartz’s extensive archive and collection in 2021, which comprises over 5,000 2D and 3D objects, personal papers, photographs, and computing equipment. This landmark acquisition will be explored through the exhibition’s three core themes, which include her journey from childhood to adulthood, her exploration of art, science, and technology at Bell Laboratories, and her innovative approach to pushing media boundaries.
The Collections Gallery, specifically designed to showcase The Henry Ford’s collections, will host the exhibition, marking its debut with this tribute to Schwartz. Visitors will be treated to the artist’s newly restored sculpture “Proxima Centauri,” alongside a selection of rarely exhibited mixed-media works, studio equipment, and immersive projections of Schwartz’s films.
As we gear up for the opening of this remarkable exhibition, it’s clear that “Lillian Schwartz: Whirlwind of Creativity” isn’t just a showcase of an extraordinary artist—it’s a tribute to a pioneer who continually sought to push the boundaries of what was possible in the world of art and technology.