On The Square

A Celebration of the Architectural Oculus

By Bidsquare

Jun 17,2016 | 11:00 EDT

What began for Marylyn Dintenfass as a methodical, process-oriented exercise, exploring the expressive and technical possibilities of circles, grew into a meditative celebration of the architectural Oculus. The circle motif has been one of the constants in the visual lexicon that Dintenfass has employed throughout her work. Evoking a wide range of mathematical, historical and philosophical references—from cellular microcosms to celestial macrocosms—Dintenfass has sustained a perceptive investigation of this iconic, essential shape. Whereas some of her oculi are made with strong gestural marks, revealing the presence of Dintenfass hand, others make use of a highly controlled, hard-edge matrix derived from ring-like templates of her own design. The tension between these two modes, organic and mathematical, becomes a critical element of the series, playing against each others similarities and differences. 

Oculus Series, Photo courtesy of Marylyn Dintenfass

Dintenfass Oculus works are also influenced by her concerns for architectural space and scale. The oculus (Latin for "eye") originated in Antiquity as a circular opening, often at the top of a dome. The oculus allowed a focused beam of natural light to illuminate a buildings interior; this illumination changed with the hour, weather conditions and season. Thus, even though the “opening" remained constant, its interaction with and control of light, and the fact that one can see both into and out of an oculus, is full of provocative dichotomies, meanings and visual possibilities. 

Part of the Oculus series, Dintenfass’ Oculus. Number 49 will be at auction June 20 in Arts, Letters and Numbers benefit auction.

Marylyn Dintenfass, Oculus. Number 49, Estimate $3,000-5,000

Watch the video below to learn more about the Oculus Series


Marylyn Dintenfass’ work is found in major public, corporate and private collections in Europe, South America, Israel, Japan and the United States, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Mississippi Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her 30,000 square foot 2010 Parallel Park installation in Fort Myers, Florida is one of the largest and most noteworthy of the last decade. Her work has been widely reviewed by Artinfo, ARTNews, Huffington Post and her 2011 and 2012 Babcock Galleries exhibitions were both selected as one of the year’s top 100 shows by Modern Painters Magazine. 

Marylyn Dintenfass, Photo courtesy of artist

Dintenfass has twice been a MacDowell Fellow and has received both an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts and two Project Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She was awarded the Silver Medal at the First International, Mino, Japan, and The Ravenna Prize at the 45th Faenza International in Italy. Her academic positions have included Visiting Professor at the National College of Art and Design in Bergen and Oslo, Norway; Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel; Sheridan College in Toronto, Canada and Hunter College in New York City. For ten years she was a member of the faculty at Parsons School of Design in New York City. 

Bid now in Arts, Letters and Numbers upcoming live auction on June 20th here, and the timed auction live now, ending June 29.

Learn more about Dintenfass and her work here.