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Casemore Kirkeby opens a wide ranging exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Sonya Rapoport
Ida​, 1976. Acrylic spray and graphite on Arches, 38 x 50 inches.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- In 1970, Berkeley, California based artist Sonya Rapoport was using traditional media to produce paintings on  canvas. By the end of the decade she was programming computers to analyze and plot data, creating works on  paper that function as portraits of her data body.   

This wide ranging exhibition of paintings and works on paper reveals the rapid evolution of this prescient artist,  one which reflects the transformation of high modernist culture into our present information society. This  special exhibition is a collaboration between Casemore Kirkeby and SRLT.   

Sonya Rapoport (b. 1923, Brookline, MA; d. 2015, Berkeley, CA) was a conceptual artist best known for a  visual language that appropriated the aesthetics of science and digital media. Her work is characterized by  groundbreaking experimentation with computers and data collection, collaboration with eminent scientists and  experts in the humanities, a fascination with categorization and systems of knowledge, a consistent  reinvestigation of her own earlier work, and a profound feminist mission marked by strategic forays into male  dominated fields. Her career represents a unique path from high modernist painting to contemporary  conceptual and new media work. 

Among the first women to receive an M.A. in Painting (UC Berkeley, 1949), Rapoport’s Abstract Expressionist  work was given a solo exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1963. She went on to  explore pattern, painting on printed fabrics and developing a personal pictographic vocabulary using  recontextualized stencils. In 1976 Rapoport began drawing on found computer printout paper, eventually  leading to her reinvention as a digital artist. Her interactive installations used computer programs to gather,  process, and represent data. An integral part of a community of artists experimenting with emerging computer  technologies in the early 1980’s, Rapoport had an active role in MIT Press’ art, science, and technology journal  Leonardo. Critical recognition of Rapoport’s contributions gained momentum in the last decade of her life.   

Rapoport leaves a 66-year artistic legacy that includes works in a variety of media, including paintings, works on  paper, performance artifacts, books, videos, and web art. Her name is recognized nationally and internationally  through her participation in over fifty major exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (2006), Bienal de Arte,  Buenos Aires (2002), Zero1 Biennial, Silicon Valley (2012), Violence Without Bodies, Museo Reina Sofia,  Madrid (2005), and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). She was the subject of late-career retrospective  exhibitions at KALA Art Institute, Berkeley (2011), Mills College Art Museum, Oakland (2012), The Fresno  Art Museum (2013) and the book Pairing of Polarities: The Life and Art of Sonya Rapoport, edited by Terri  Cohn (Heyday, 2012). Her archives are preserved in the Bancroft Library at the University of California,  Berkeley. 






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