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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Linda Henderson

Professor Ph. D., Yale University

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Biography

 

Linda Henderson earned her Ph.D. at Yale University and has taught 20th-century European and American art in the Department of Art and Art History since 1978. Before coming to the University of Texas, she served from 1974 through 1977 as Curator of Modern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Professor Henderson's research and teaching focus on the interdisciplinary study of modernism, including the relation of modern art to fields such as geometry, science and technology, and mystical and occult philosophies. In addition to periodical articles and catalog essays, she is the author of The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Princeton University Press, 1983; new ed., MIT Press, 2012), which received the Vasari Award from the Dallas Museum of Art. Her second book,Duchamp in Context: Science and Technology in the Large Glass and Related Works (Princeton, 1998), won first prize in the University's Robert W. Hamilton Author Awards competition in 1999.

During the past decade Professor Henderson has continued to work in the area of art and science while also expanding her study of the cultural history of the “fourth dimension” to the entire 20th century. In 2002 she published an interdisciplinary anthology co-edited with literature scholar Bruce Clarke, From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature (Stanford University Press). That volume is based on a symposium of the same title organized at the University of Texas in 1997, which brought together panels of historians of science, literature, and art to discuss the cultural impact of a series of scientific and technological developments, ranging from thermodynamics and ether/electromagnetism to cybernetics and virtual reality. In 2004 she guest-edited a special issue of Science in Context on modern art and science, featuring an Editor's Introduction addressing methodological and historiographic questions around this topic.

In January 2013 MIT Press will publish a reprint edition of her 1983 Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art, with a 100-page “Reintroduction” that both augments the original book's scientific context and expands its coverage through the century. The new text thus ranges from the ether physics still dominant in the pre-World War I and wartime periods to the initial reemergence of the spatial fourth dimension in popular culture in the 1950s/1960s and its full-blown resurgence in the context of computer graphics and string theory in physics beginning in the 1980s. It was in the context of this research that she discovered the importance of the multivalent fourth dimension for the artists of the Park Place Gallery (1963-67) and organized the 2008 exhibition Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York for UT's Blanton Museum. Drawing on the past decade's research, Professor Henderson is currently completing a sequel volume to the Fourth Dimension book, which chronicles the concept as a leitmotif throughout the century that attracted a surprising number of artists in Europe and the United States as well as Canada and Latin America. She is also beginning a book project entitled “The Energies of Modernism: Art, Science, and Occultism in the Early 20th Century.”

A Guggenheim Fellow in 1988-89, Professor Henderson is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and in 2009 received a Regents Outstanding Teaching Award. During late spring-summer 2010 and 2011 she was a Senior Fellow at the IKKM [International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy] at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, where she now a member of the Board.

T C 357 • Fourth Dimen 20th-Cen Art/Cul

43115 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CRD 007B
show description

The Fourth Dimension in 20th-Century Art and Culture

Description:

For much of the 20th century, after Einstein rose to celebrity status in 1919, the term "fourth dimension" was understood to mean time—as in the four-dimensional space-time continuum of Relativity Theory.  Yet, between the 1880s and the 1920s, the general public was fascinated by the possibility of an unseen spatial "Fourth Dimension," of which the three-dimensional world might be merely a section, akin to the shadows in Plato's allegory of the cave.  So popular was the idea that artists in nearly every major early 20th-century movement responded to it in some way (e.g., Cubists, Marcel Duchamp, Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich); only the popularization of Einstein's theories drove the concept underground, where it stayed alive in science fiction, in particular.  Beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s, however, the development of computer graphics and the emergence of string theory in physics, with its universes of varying dimensions, led to a major renewal of cultural interest in higher dimensions of space.  Today the spatial fourth dimension is prevalent once again in many different contexts, ranging from physics research at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the "liquid architecture in cyberspace" of digital architect Marcos Novak and the 2007 film Flatland: The Movie (animated and produced by Plan II graduates). 

Texts/Readings:

Because of its multivalence and relevance in so many fields—mathematics, physics, philosophy, occultism, modern art and architecture, literature (including science fiction), music, television, and film—the fourth dimension provides an excellent vehicle for examining 20th and 21st-century culture.  Art will be a primary focus of the seminar, but readings will range over a wide variety of sources on the subject (both primary and secondary) in different fields, since it was such reading that often inspired the artists themselves.  Books to purchase: Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland (1884) and xeroxed course packet. 

Course requirements:

Individual short reports early in the semester will allow students to explore an aspect of the fourth dimension's history in a field of interest to them; a paper of about 15 pages will offer the chance to pursue that or another topic in greater detail and to hone a student's research and writing skills.

  • 1 quiz 20%
  • 2 Short reports to be presented orally, 5% each
  • 35% Research paper of ca. 15 pages, with an initial draft and rewrite
  • 35% Class participation 15% 

About the Instructor:

Linda Dalrymple Henderson is the David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professor in Art History and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  In addition to numerous essays, she is the author of The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (1983; new enlarged edition being prepared); and Duchamp in Context: Science and Technology in the Large Glass and Related Works (1998).  With Texas Tech literature scholar Bruce Clarke she co-edited the anthology From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature (Stanford University Press, 2002), based on a 1997 conference at UT.  The guest curator for the exhibition Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York (Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, 2008), she is currently at work on a book titled "The Energies of Modernism: Early 20th-Century Art and Science."  Her hobbies include tap dancing and gardening.

 

 

T C 357 • 20th-Century Art And Culture

43000 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CRD 007B
show description

For much of the 20th century, after Einstein rose to celebrity status in 1919, the term "fourth dimension" was understood to mean time—as in the four-dimensional space-time continuum of Relativity Theory.  Yet, between the 1880s and the 1920s, the general public was fascinated by the possibility of an unseen spatial "Fourth Dimension," of which the three-dimensional world might be merely a section, akin to the shadows in Plato's allegory of the cave.  So popular was the idea that artists in nearly every major early 20th-century movement responded to it in some way (e.g., Cubists, Marcel Duchamp, Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich); only the popularization of Einstein's theories drove the concept underground, where it stayed alive in science fiction, in particular.  Beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s, however, the development of computer graphics and the emergence of string theory in physics, with its universes of varying dimensions, led to a major renewal of cultural interest in higher dimensions of space.  Today the spatial fourth dimension is prevalent once again in many different contexts, ranging from physics research at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland to the "liquid architecture in cyberspace" of digital architect Marcos Novak and the 2007 film Flatland: The Movie (animated by a Plan II graduate).

            Because of its multivalence and relevance in so many fields—mathematics, physics, philosophy, occultism, modern art and architecture, literature (including science fiction), music, television, and film—the fourth dimension provides an excellent vehicle for examining 20th and 21st-century culture.  Art will be a primary focus of the seminar, but readings will range over a wide variety of sources on the subject (both primary and secondary) in different fields, since it was such reading that often inspired the artists themselves.  In addition to two short oral reports on class readings or specific topics, a paper of about 15 pages will offer the chance to pursue that or another topic in greater detail and to hone a student's research and writing skills. 

Texts to purchase: E. A. Abbott, Flatland; Claude Bragdon, A Primer of Higher Space (The Fourth Dimension); Xeroxed packet of readings.

 

About the Professor:

Linda Dalrymple Henderson is the David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professor in Art History and Regents Outstanding Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  In addition to numerous essays, she is the author of The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (1983; new enlarged edition forthcoming from MIT Press, fall 2012); and Duchamp in Context: Science and Technology in the Large Glass and Related Works (1998).  With Texas Tech literature scholar Bruce Clarke she co-edited the anthology From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature (Stanford University Press, 2002), based on a 1997 conference at UT.  The guest curator for the exhibition Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York (Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, 2008), she is currently at work on a book titled "The Energies of Modernism: Early 20th-Century Art and Science."  Her hobbies include tap dancing and gardening.

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