Herbert W. Franke - MONDRIAN (1979/2010/2022)

MONDRIAN (1979/2010/2022)

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A 21-minute video displaying Herbert W. Franke’s original MONDRIAN software made for Texas Instruments in 1979, MONDRIAN's is naming and aesthetics are directly inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, pioneer of geometric abstraction. The piece's mutating vertical and horizontal overlapping linear forms create a never-ending composition in the spirit of Mondrian's Neo-Plasticism. MONDRIAN was initially developed for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4, one of the first home computers. The TI-99/4 was also the first home computer to include a 16-bit processor, making the device one of the most advanced systems commercially available at the time. The TI-99/4 included TI-BASIC, an ANSI-compliant interpreter for the BASIC programming language. TI-BASIC allowed curious users to experiment with and learn BASIC, inspiring a multitude of coders for years to come. Alongside MONDRIAN’s visual component, the program includes generative music to correspond with the endlessly rendering visuals. In addition to MONDRIAN, the TI-99/4 included two other works of generative software art by Franke: IMPRESSION and MOSAIQUE. In 1979, MONDRIAN was displayed at the world’s first Ars Electronica festival. Over 100,000 people gathered at the Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria, to witness the birth of one of the most influential events in electronic art. The program reemerged in 2010 for Franke’s solo exhibition, Wanderer Between the Worlds, at ZKM Karlsruhe in Germany. In 2022, the same video output of the program acquired by Le Random was displayed at the Art Basel, Basel Tezos exhibition. The legendary Franke still actively created digital work at the age of 95, displaying his penchant to adopt emerging technologies in an ever-evolving world.


This video is a recording of the output of the program MONDRIAN originally produced in the context of the comprehensive solo exhibition “Wanderer between the Worlds” that ZKM (Center of Art and Media Karlsruhe) dedicated to Herbert W. Franke’s in 2010. It was edited in 2022 for higher resolution with the help of AI software.

MONDRIAN is a dynamic program for image and sound that Herbert W. Franke developed for Texas Instruments in 1979. It is named after the Dutch artist of the very same name, who was a pioneer of constructivism between the two world wars. Characteristic for him is the principle horizontal – vertical: arrangements of vertically crossing elements, mostly painted in rich colors.

The program was developed for the Texas Instruments home computer 99/4. It can be used in two ways: First, it permits the selective construction of individual images–in a kind of step-by-step operation as a dynamic sequence in which the user can interactively intervene at any time. Secondly, however, it is also possible to design a “dynamic image”, a sequence of images that changes constantly on its own and whose algorithms run under random influence. In the endless-automatic operating mode, the program also generates algorithmically generated sound effects in parallel as a function of the image structures.


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Edition Type


Date of Mint

June 9, 2022

Date of Acquisition

October 13, 2022