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 Über Gerard  Caris

 À propos de Gerard Caris

 Sobre Gerard Caris 
   Gerard Caris

   Gerard Caris

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   Герард Карис

   Gerard Caris

     Gerard Caris

     Gerard Caris

About Gerard Caris 


Projecting Pentagonism

Intensity and Repetition neuroarthistory and the Art of Gerard Caris

Negative Space, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
06-04-2019 - 11-08-2019
More information

Chapter from the book EUROPEAN ART A NEUROARTHISTORY by John Onians
Yale University Press 2016: Part 9 The twentieth Century Caris and Sculpture

Artist Talk // Gerard Caris & Beral Madra 18 September 2012 KUAD Gallery,

KUAD Gallery Caris invitation

Interview at the occasion of the Bridges exhibition Leeuwarden, the Netherlands 2008 (youtube)

Julien Bogousslavsky: Creativity patterns and the brain Abstraction, extraction and figuration in  the art of Gerard Caris

Mark Cheetham: The Crystal Interface

John Onians The Role of Experiential Knowledge

Dear Mr. Caris,

We consider your work as a special and willful contribution to the history of art of the 20th century. You represent a specific moment in the dialogue between the dominance of America and Europe who was seeking itself at that time. Your investigation of the pentagon links conceptual, minimalistic and spiritual influences, that determined our West-European circumstances.
The Van Abbemuseum has bought in the mid-eighties two of your works: Reliefstructure 1D no. 3 and Reliefstructure 1G no. 1. This indicates that we propagated the importance of your work not only in words but also in action. We would be greatly pleased if these works could be presented in the context of a retrospective of your life's work.
We wish you every success in realizing a presentation of your entire works.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Esche

Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Eindhoven July 13 2011

Nature`s order is not a disorder, but it is confusing and sometimes incalculable.

Incessantly people have tried to understand its secrets - probably because of their rightful fear of what nature with its sudden violence might do to them. So they went looking for regularities and repetitive patterns. The old myths were succeeded by scientific systems, for a single purpose only: to be in control of nature.

Gerard Caris’ work, with its obsessive nature, is an incantation. Caris thinks that he can make nature share its secrets. But all the theories that circle his art are just side affects. Whatever thoughts a work of art is based on before it is actually made, I consider to be of secondary importance. Sometimes, in Caris’ work too, the result is unexpected and mysteriously surprising. It is then, and only then, that the work of art has a right to exist.

Rudi Fuchs

Preface  catalogue Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam cahier 23 2001


"...Not only did the forms of abstract sciences, such as mathematics, influence art, they also had impact on the natural sciences; thinking about the matter. Matter has, in the meantime, long since disintegrated, dispersed into parts smaller than atoms. Dynamic interaction between fields, powers, waves, quarks, vectors, tensors and the like hold matter together or form it. Gravitation is an answer to the question: What is it that holds the world together at its core? ‘There are many answers that one could give’ writes the renowned brain researcher Semir Zeki in his contribution to the present volume, "but an answer that subsumes all the more specific ones is the following: we see in order to be able to acquire knowledge about the world. This constitutes the single most important function of the visual brain. (…) There are three aspects to this knowledge, all of which are worth considering in the context of Caris’s work. The first relates to certain knowledge, the second to uncertain knowledge and the third to the creation of knowledge."…

Gregor Jansen & Peter Weibel

Preface  catalogue ZKM Karlsruhe Gerard Caris Pentagonismus/ Pentagonism 2007

 "The Dutch artist Gerard Caris uses a geometric form language and stereometric basic structures as the foundation on which to construct the majority of his works. He covers a rectangular surface with figures in a pattern, which gives the impression of being the random part of an infinitely larger whole. In his reliefs, where he expands these figures threedimensionally, he frequently allows the contours of the figures to define the outer edges of the relief, giving these works the character of wall decorations. His three-dimensional work appears to evolve in space both organically and ornamentally, often giving the impression of making the sensory perception of physical formulae possible.


Since 1968 the artist has concerned himself chiefly with the pentagon  in two dimensional or relief works, and its three dimensional transformation, the dodecahedron, in sculptures.


Because the pentagon and the dodecahedron are not naturally occurring symmetries, they seem destined to point beyond Nature to spiritual constructions. Caris’s intuitive handling of the pentagon, his inclusion of irregularities when building modular structures must be put into a topical frame of reference which is very interesting. According to the findings of the latest scientific theory deviations in what was considered as an absolute order are now accepted as belonging to that order. Through the complex forms of his figures Caris makes theoretical constructions optically accessible to the viewer as modular systems. The mathematical systematic which forms their basis, together with its variations, is not immediately apparent. The tension which results from the not immediately comprehensible yet tangibly present order of such forms is what makes his work so extraordinary. (...)

Siegfried Salzmann

Preface catalogue Kunsthalle Bremen Gerard Caris 1993


I have long maintained that artists are neurobiologists who explore the functions and functioning of the brain, though with techniques that are unique to them[i]. This may seem strange. We are accustomed to thinking of neurobiologists as belonging in the world of science and of artists in the world of art. Scientific studies, we are taught, are steeped in rational argumentation, experimentation and deduction whereas art is intuitive and emanates from a creative faculty that resists a detailed explanation. Moreover scientific studies use detailed measurement, something that we do not traditionally associate with art, at least not superficially. As well, the technology associated with science, especially in the recent fifty years, has become extremely sophisticated and requires many resources, while art can make do with simpler techniques. For these reasons alone the idea that artists are also scientists is one that many, especially in the world of art, resist. The work of Gerard Caris provides fertile ground for considering the truth of my statement, that artists explore the potentials and capacities of the brain and thus give us insights into how it functions.


[i] Zeki, S. (1999). Inner Vision: an exploration of art and the brain, Oxford University Press.

Semir Zeki

Catalogue ZKMKarlsruhe Gerard Caris Pentagonismus/ Pentagonism 2007
The Art of Gerard Caris and the Brain's Search for Knowledge


When in 1984 crystallographers were amazed to learn that a team of scientists had succeeded in producing crystalline complexes based on regular pentagons in a rapidly cooled manganese-aluminium alloy it was decided that these should be known as "pseudo-" or "quasi-crystals"; as the discovery was the result of a technically contrived process, it would have been scientifically incorrect to use the term "crystal" as if it were referring to a naturally occurring formation.

With artistic intuition Gerard Caris had anticipated such structures from the beginning of the ’70’s.

It must not be thought that "artistic intuition" implies any kind of unconditional subjectivism on Caris’ part. On the contrary, his Pentagonal Form Language lends itself to a fuller interpretation only when one realizes that this artist from Maastricht has succeeded in combining two (at first sight very different) aspects of Dutch art of this century in a unique blend. The most obvious parallels are with the group "de Stijl" on one hand and with the work of the graphic artist M.C. Escher on the other.

Let us take "de Stijl" first. In the sphere of modern art, the work of artists like Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg represents the desire for a new order in contrast to the decadence of society at the turn of the century and the chaos of the First World War. The basis of their work was intended to be fundamental and rational and its relevance was meant to reach past the almost sacred symbolism of pure painting and sculpture into the overall pattern of everyday living and to find concrete expression as a comprehensive synthesis, a harmonious and consciously arranged society.

One might, in more pointed terms, say that the pentagon serves the same basic function for Gerard Caris as did the rectangle for Mondrian. It is the foundation for everything, both symbolic and practical. It is the rational pattern available for pure and applied design. And because it is not a naturally occurring module for complex structures it is an intellectual construct from the outset. "Der Geist ist etwas unendlich Höheres als die Natur" (Intellect is infinitely superior to Nature), runs a line from Hegel’s Ästhetik, quoted by no means coincidentally in the periodical "De Stijl".

In comparison with a rectangle a pentagon is a considerably more complicated basic form, and the contrast is even greater between a pentagonal dodecahedron and a cube or a rectangular parallelepiped. Working with such forms requires significantly greater geometric or stereometric effort. An overview of the pentagon-based work of the Dutchman Caris, spanning more than the last two decades, will reveal a desire for knowledge bordering on obsession, a probing and puzzling (in no way dilettantish) which differs widely from Mondrian’s well-nigh Messianic awareness of the already discovered. The visible results as well as the approach place any comparison with Caris closer to Escher than to Mondrian.


Uli Bohnen

Catalogue Kunsthalle Bremen Gerard Caris 1993 :

Gerard Caris and the nature of art




But there is more to it yet. When an artist uses his formal vocabulary to create objects of everyday use and so enters the domain of applied art we are witnessing aspects of an age-surpassing modernity, showing consciousness of continuity.

More specifically: It may be true to say that the radical attitudes of some of the most important representatives of modern art in the present century became manifest precisely in the fact that they attempted to expand their metaphysical claims – partly borrowed from the distant past, partly inspired by the scientific and social issues of their time – to include the reform of daily life, and that as a consequence of these attempts, they wished to end the separation between free and applied art. In contrast, however, the popular view has doggedly persisted that art and day-to-day life are uncorrelated (and non-relatable) domains – with the dominant preference for free or applied art generally falling now this, now the other way. In the face of this continuing anti-modernism Caris adheres to modern principles.


Uli Bohnen

Catalogue Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam cahiers 8 1997 :

Inter Dimensiones – Mind and Nature in the Art of Gerard Caris




…I appreciate and enjoy Caris’ artwork not only because it is challenging, aesthetically pleasing, and culturally important, but also because in a sense Caris is a loner and marches to the beat of his own drum. In a world where embracing the latest trend is almost essential for artistic (or scientific) survival there is something refreshing and optimistic about an artist that quietly and obsessively follows their own path no matter the consequences….

Rob Harle (art critic for Leonardo Book Reviews)

Leonardo Vol. 41, issue 3, 2008
contact :


"Gerard Caris or the artist of the missing space scheme of nature"
Hans Redeker, NRC Handelsblad 10/01/1975


In March 2007 mathematicians announced they had successfully mapped E8, one of the most beautiful objects within the mathematical universe.(…)

E8 is a close relative of one of the oldest mathematical symbols: the dodecahedron. (…)

In Scotland archeologists have found granite balls dating back to the Stone Age, which are cut in the exact shape of dodecahedra.(…)

Four thousand years ago, before the Venus of Milo or the Mona Lisa, someone must have found the E8, closely associated with the dodecahedron, a construction of great beauty.

And not only in the Stone Age.

Simultaneously with the announcement of the E8 in 2007 the exhibition “Mein Gen, das hat fünf Ecken” opened in Karlsruhe, with art works of the Dutch artist Gerard Caris, whose entire oeuvre is based on the five angled form.


Robbert Dijkgraaf (University professor mathematical physics at the University of Amsterdam and as of May 2008 President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Translation fragment from :

Blikwisselingen Robbert Dijkgraaf  ISBN 978 90 351 3336 5

...the "POL YHEDRAL NET STRUCTURE 3, 1973" , which at the time of its creation harbored a scientific sensation, not recognized as such, however, until may years afterwards. After all, although it has been a proven fact that the dodecahedron does not lend itself to regular arrangements ("packing") in a space without gaps or overlaps, Caris nearly succeeds in providing conclusive empirical proof that this may yet be possible. A number of dodecahedrons appear to be distributed in a regular pattern.". . .

"It is only under closer scrutiny that we observe that the artist has made a choice from among the positions for new dodecahedrons at hand (van der Blij) and also discover discontinuities in the regular distribution of dodecahedrons. Still we need to emphasize that the artist here found a spatial structure which indeed contains local five-fold symmetries. The partly transparent linear arrangement and parallel displacement of the dodecahedrons in the network of the sculpture lend a high degree of ordering to this work. The special optical appeal however lies in the presence of at least one discontinuity in the network of dodecahedrons. As Caris solved this problem of the optimally regular positioning of dodecahedrons in space, important not only from an artistic point of view, but also and especially from the viewpoint of scientific investigation, he immediately achieved for himself the necessary open space as an artist to create works of art liberated from all problems of this kind."

Dietmar Guderian Peter Volkwein Translated from German

Catalogue Museum für Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt 2000 : Gerard Caris Gestalten und Forschen mit dem Pentagon

Reflexionen über das Fünfeck: Der Künstler Gerard Caris und die


"Doch bewegen sich schon lange Philosophie und Mathematik in vier und n-dimensionalen
Räumen. Warum soll es aber dem Künstler verboten sein, wenigstens nach einer Ausdrucksform über die dritte Dimension hinaus zu suchen", heißt es in einer 1953 erschienenen Schrift des Architekten Carl August Bembé, mit der sich der Künstler Gerard Caris intensiv beschäftigte. Seit nahezu 40 Jahren gilt Caris zentrales künstlerisches Anliegen der Form des Fünfecks. Indem er das Grundmodul zu übergeordneten Gebilden zusammenfügt, gelangt er zu seinen komplexen, grafischen und skulpturalen Strukturen.


Das veränderte Weltbild

Philosophie und Mathematik sind Vorreiter eines neuen Denkens, das seit dem 17. Jahrhundert langsam in die Gesellschaft einsickerte. Doch immer noch orientiert sich unser Denken am Newtonschen Weltbild als hätte es Gauß, Einstein oder Heisenberg nie gegeben. Spätestens seit uns vor 100 Jahren die Relativitätstheorie mit der Aufgabe konfrontiert hat, Raum und Zeit als zusammengehöriges vierdimensionales Kontinuum zu begreifen, hätte unsere populäre Vorstellung von Dreidimensionalität einer profunden Änderung bedurft.


Das Fünfeck als Grundmodul

Untersagt ist die ästhetische Suche nach n-dimensionalen Räumen nicht, doch wagen sich nur wenige Künstler an und über diese Grenze. Gerard Caris ist einer von diesen Grenzgängern: Mit unerschöpflicher Formenkombinatorik verleiht der 1925 in Maastricht geborene Künstler den Fragen nach der Struktur der Welt einen zeitgenössischen ästhetischen Ausdruck. Sein Mittel ist das Fünfeck. Seit nahezu 40 Jahren gilt Gerard Caris zentrales künstlerisches Interesse dieser einen Form. Indem er das Grundmodul zu übergeordneten Gebilden zusammenfügt, gelangt er zu seinen komplexen, grafischen und skulpturalen Strukturen, von ihm als "pentagonale Komplexe" bezeichnet. Fünfeck-Konstruktionen findet man in Caris' Oeuvre nicht nur in der Zeichnung, dem Relief ( ) oderder Skulptur, sondern auch in Architektur und Design.


Die "Schatten vierdimensionaler Objekte"

"Ein dreidimensionales Objekt wirft einen Schatten von nur zwei Dimensionen. Daraus kann
man schließen, dass ein dreidimensionales Objekt seinerseits der Schatten eines Objekts
sein muss, das vierdimensional ist." Mit dieser scharfsinnigen Analogie versuchte bereits der
Künstler Marcel Duchamp etwas bislang Unvorstellbares, aber Denkbares, der allgemeinen
Vorstellung näher zu bringen. Künstler wie Gerard Caris können uns dieses Unvorstellbare
im handgreiflichen Objekt veranschaulichen, was für die Mathematik oder die Philosophie eine weitaus schwerere Aufgabe darstellt.
Michael Scheibel Konzeptentwickler, Publizist und als Fachberater Kunst




Ein Künstlerleben für das Dodekaeder 

Gerard Caris hat das Potenzial des eckenreichsten platonischen Körpers ausgelotet. 

Christoph Pöppe über Pentagonismus / Pentagonism 

Spektrum des Wissenschaft – Januar 2009 

Oleg Grabar 28 april 2009

dear gerard caris, your pentagon series is really stunning and deserves a full study
by other artists aswell as by art historians.
(Oleg grabar became Aga Khan professor of Islamic art and architecture in 1980 and stayed
at harvard until 1990, when he joined the institute of advanced study.
he has been a professor emeritus  since 1998


“This is fascinating. Problems that Mondrian left behind.”

Norman Bryson

Professor of Art History

University of California, San Diego USA

22 June 2009



Duurzaamheid  Gerard Caris

  • Geboren: 1925, Maastricht
  • Woont en werkt in Maastricht
  • University of California, Berkeley, USA, 1964-1969 (zijn leraren waren o.a. David Hockney en R.B. Kitaj)
  • Masters Degree in Art, 1969
  • Schilder, beeldhouwer

Na veel omzwervingen over de wereld en studies in de Verenigde Staten keerde de ingenieur Gerard Caris in 1968 definitief terug naar zijn geboortestad Maastricht. Hier wijdt hij zich volledig aan het autonome kunstenaarschap. Onder de kunstenaars die zich door meetkundige vormen laten inspireren, neemt Caris een bijzondere plaats in. Hij is de enige die de vijfhoek, in al zijn planometrische en stereometrische vormen met al hun tussenvormen, consequent toepast in een systeem van regelmaat zonder herhaling. Door ontstane vlakken verschillend te arceren of in te kleuren bereikt Caris in zijn tekeningen perspectieven die sterk aan Escher doen denken. Voor zijn overwegend monochrome ruimtelijke objecten gebruikt hij de dodecaëder, het regelmatige twaalfvlak en daaruit voortkomende ruitenveelvlakken. Over zijn werkt zegt Caris: 'Juist omdat de vijfhoek niet in de natuur voorkomt, vond ik het een uitdaging ermee aan de slag te gaan.' Het uitgangspunt van Caris is een wezenlijke vernieuwing in de kunst tot stand te brengen.


Sustainability Gerard Caris

  • Born in Maastricht, 1925
  • Lives and works in Maastricht
  • Studied at the University of California, Berkeley, 1964 – 1969 where his teachers included David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj
  • Obtained a Masters Degree in Art, 1969
  • Painter and sculptor

Having traveled the world and studied in the United States the former engineer Gerard Caris returned to Maastricht, the city of his birth. He determined to pursue his artistic calling fulltime. Caris has a special place amongst the artists inspired by geometric shapes. He is the only one who was able to consistently produce a pentagon, with its planometric and stereometric forms and all their intermediate forms, without having to repeat the process. By reducing the depth of various shades or colors in his drawings Caris achieves perspectives that strongly remind one of Escher. For the majority of his monochrome three-dimensional objects he uses a dodecahedron with its 12 pentagonal faces and checkered polyhedrons. Caris has said of his work "Because the pentagon does not occur in nature I find it a challenge to work with it". Caris' starting point is to bring a real change to art.  


 Heel bijzonder is de website van de 84-jarige beeldend kunstenaar Gerard Caris die daarop het begrip "pentagonisme" ofwel vijfhoekigheid introduceert als een nieuw fenomeen in de beeldende kunst. Daarover is op niet alleen een theoretische en historische verhandeling te lezen, maar op die site worden ook werken van hem getoond die op dit principe zijn gebaseerd. Fascinerend alleen al om naar te kijken. Dat zeker. 

Rob Hamilton 2009


Reliefstructure 1w-1 2009
p, eg, iron frame, paint



“I'm much impressed by the invention and imagination you display within what might be regarded as a confining geometric format.”

Keith Moxey

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Art History and Acting Chair, Barnard College, Department of Art History, Columbia University, New York, NY

November 13 2009



“I have enjoyed learning about your sculpture reflecting your work in the realm of Pentagonism.  It is very interesting conceptually and beautifully crafted aesthetically.”

Andrew Connors

Curator of Art
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History
2000 Mountain Road, NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico  87104

December 7, 2009



“dear Gerard

As you know, I think highly of what I know of your work--and especially
esteem your formidable integrity.”

Dr David Anfam
Commissioning Editor, Fine Art
Phaidon Press Ltd
Regent's Wharf
Saints Street
London N1 9PA
England, UK

March 19, 2010



“Thank you so much for sharing information and images on what has been a remarkably prolific career. Your works are visually stimulating and conceptually sophisticated.”

Betsy Carpenter
Curator, Visual Arts / Permanent Collection
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55403

March 25, 2010



“Thank you for contacting me in relationship to your aesthetic research,
which of course, I find very interesting.
Warhol’s fifteen-minute fame through public relations was never my cup of
tea. I have always appreciated artists who invested a lifetime in their
investigations. So, I appreciate your long-time consistent efforts.”

Dietmar R. Winkler, Professor Emeritus
University of Massachusetts


June 12, 2010


These are some beautiful geometric sculptures.(Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2001)

Design +other stuff

July 6, 2010



Gerard Caris's Pentagonism series –
a nice mix of Geometry and art.
Nice visual inspiration.
July 10, 2010

for your ideas + aesthetics + amusement