Frieder Nake

Stuttgart (Germany), 1938

Frieder Nake studied mathematics at the Technical University of Stuttgart, where he attended Prof. Max Bense’s lectures on philosophy, semiotics, and aesthetics. In 1964, he created his first computer drawings using a Zuse Graphomat Z64 to which he had access at the Computing Centre of the University. In 1965, he presented his work alongside Georg Nees in one of the three first exhibitions of computer-generated art in history. Titled Computer-Grafik, the show took place at the Wendelin Niedlich Galerie in Stuttgart, from November 5th to the 26th. Between 1966 and 1972 he took part in many exhibitions, among which the seminal Cybernetic Serendipity (ICA, London, 1968), curated by Jasia Reichardt, or Proposal for an Experimental Exhibition at the 35th Venice Biennale. In 1971 he decided not to produce any more computer art, which he considered would end up catering to the art market. Instead, he focused on research in computer art, computer graphics, and digital media at several universities, such as the University of Toronto (1968), University of Bremen (1972), University of Vienna (1988), University of Oslo (1995), University of Colorado at Boulder (1997, 1998), Northwest Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Xian, Shaanxi, China (2000), University of Aarhus, Denmark (2000, 02, 04, 05), International School of New Media at Lübeck (2003, 05, 06, 07), University of Basel (2007), Donau-University Krems (2007, 09), and the University of Costa Rica (2009). In 1999, he co-founded with Susanne Grabowski and Matthias Krauß the project compArt: a space for computer art (later compArt: Centre of Excellence Digital Art), a large online database dedicated to early digital art. Widely recognised as one of the “three big N´s”, the pioneers who first exhibited algorithmic art in 1965 (the other two being Georg Nees and A. Michael Noll), Frieder Nake is a figure of reference in computer art, who continues to exhibit his work regularly as an artist represented by DAM Gallery (Berlin) while pursuing his teaching and research activities as a professor of computer science at the University of Bremen and the University of the Arts in Bremen.

Frieder Nake has taken part in all the major shows on computer art. Among the most notable exhibitions are Cybernetic Serendipity (ICA, London, 1968), curated by Jasia Reichardt; Kunst und Computer (Viennna Sparkasse, 1969), curated by Otto Beckmann; 25 Jahre Computerkunst – Grafik, Animation und Technik (BMW Pavilion, Munich, 1989), curated by Herbert W. Franke; Ex Machina – Frühe Computergrafik bis 1979 (Kunsthalle Bremen, 2007), curated by Wulf Herzogenrath and Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk; and Drawing with Code: Works from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection (DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2011), curated by George Fifield. In 2004, a retrospective of his work took place at Kunsthalle Bremen and ZKM Karlsruhe under the title Frieder Nake: Die präzisen Vergnügen, followed by a large number of one-person shows such as compART, Algorithmus und Zufall (DAM Gallery Berlin, 2005), Licht ins Dunkel, 25 x 50 Jahre Computerkunst (HFK Bremen, 2013), No Message Whatsoever: Frieder Nake & Friends (DAM Gallery, Berlin, 2013) and 79 + 364 (DAM Gallery, Berlin, 2019).