Lisson Gallery is pleased to announce the representation of the Estate of Channa Horwitz in New York and London. The gallery will present a solo exhibition in New York in January 2018, featuring works from the artist’s seminal Sonakinatography series.

Born in 1932 in Los Angeles, where she lived and worked for her entire life, Channa Horwitz studied graphic design in the early 1950s at Art Center College of Design and Fine Art at Cal State Northridge in the early 1960s. In 1972 she received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. There she studied with more well-known colleagues John Baldessari and Allan Kaprow, participating in some of Kaprow’s notorious ‘Happenings’ and creating her own.

In 1968, Horwitz submitted a proposal called “Suspension of Vertical Beams Moving in Space” to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art and Technology exhibition. The proposal was for a sculpture with eight moving beams, suspended in the air by magnetism and lit at varying intensities. Dismissed from working with industry because she was a woman, her sculpture was never fabricated. LACMA did publish her proposal in the catalogue, but she was the only artist left off of the cover. This and the omission of any women artists in the exhibition spawned a feminist movement in the Los Angeles art scene, and the exhibition received a great deal of criticism. However, her attempt to graphically describe the movement of the beams with the rules and systems of eight that she developed for this proposal became the foundation for her numerous bodies of work, including her ground breaking series, Sonakinatography.

The name Sonakinatography was created by combining the Greek words for sound, movement and notation. Describing Sonakinatography as a “visual philosophy” Horwitz wrote: “I could compose two or three dimensionally, as in painting or sculpture, but I had no ability to compose in the fourth dimension, time. I could not conceive of how a choreographer or a musical composer could compose time...” “I devised a system that would allow me to see time visually...” “I chose a graph as the basis for the visual description of time. I gave the graph a value: each square became one beat or pulse in time. I chose to use eight entities, that I named "instruments". With eight instruments, each having a duration in time equal to its number, I proceeded to create compositions."

Along with corresponding to a beat in time, each of the eight numbers correspond to movement, and can represent an instrument, dance movement, shape, colour, sound, light or word, so that when completed, they are not only graphic expressions of time, movement and space, but can also function as visual scores and instructions for what has been expressed through music, dance, animation, light and poem-opera.

By leaving open the possibility for interpretation, Horwitz has influenced generations of artists. Haroon Mirza used Horwitz’s Sonakinatography Composition III (1996) to create A Chamber for Horwitz: Sonakinatography Transcriptions in Surround Sound (2015). Currently on view in Everything At Once at Store Studios, 180 Strand, London, the work turns Horwitz’s notational sequences and matrices into a multi-coloured, sonic score. 

Horwitz’s work is included in Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-1989 on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York through April 2018. In 2016, The Museum of Modern Art, New York organized a solo presentation of acquired works, as part of the museum’s ongoing series titled “Inbox”. Prior to this, Horwitz’s work was the subject of solo exhibitions at Raven Row, London, UK (2016); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary art, Berlin, Germany (2015); Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam, Germany (2009); among others. Her work has been included in major group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2016); Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil (2015); Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (2015); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, USA (2015); 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2014); the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2013); Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany (2012); among others. Her works is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; among others. Horwitz received an Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978, and was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship Grant in 2013, just before her death at the age of eighty.

Exhibitions