Frieder Nake, Geradenscharen, fine art print, 32 x 50 cm, 2018
Frieder Nake, Geradenscharen, fine art print, 32 x 50 cm, 2018
Frieder Nake, Geradenscharen, fine art print, 32 x 50 cm, 2018
Frieder Nake, Geradenscharen, fine art print, 32 x 50 cm, 2018


Frieder Nake (born 1938 in Stuttgart, lives in Bremen) is considered one of the pioneers of computer art. As a student he developed the basic software for the flatbed plotter Zuse Graphomat Z64 at the Computing Center of the Technical University in Stuttgart in 1963. In addition to technical drawings, drawings with aesthetic appeal were also produced from Nake’s early experiments in algorithmic art. At one of the first exhibitions of digital art worldwide, he presented his work together with Georg Nees at the Wendelin Niedlich gallery in Stuttgart in November 1965. After that, the exhibition at the Data Center Darmstadt in 1966 found a broad response in the media.

Nake has been honoured with numerous prizes and awards. He has published numerous writings influenced by Max Bense’s information aesthetics, where he reflects on computer-generated image. Also, Nake wrote about the early computer graphics in an essay commissioned by Wolf Lieser’s publication, “The World of Digital Art“, 2010. As Nake says, “Today we view the many and varied events and manifestations of art, which have been summarized as ‘computer art’. However, computer art has gone far beyond its simple and timid start. In addition to imagination, we find boldness, audacity, and a lot of specialized knowledge. We went against everything that was considered art. We were the avant-garde. […] It was conceptual art, made by a machine.”

In terms of concept, the idea of chance plays an important role, as visible in Nake’s early series of random polygons. Often consisting of only one line, which bends in pre-programmed angles at random times during the painting process, they reduce graphics to its origins. Unlike in today’s printing processes, plotter drawing kept the line, caused by impingement of pen on paper, as its basic element. Frieder Nakes mostly asymmetrical compositions are full of tension, far from the current idea of a “clean” computer aesthetics. Details of his works rather look as if drawn by the precise, yet energetic hand of an artist – for example Hommage à Paul Klee from 1965 with its alternation of parallel and acute-angled, overlapping lines. This work also shows Nake’s preoccupation with art history – it refers to Klee’s work Main Path and Byways from 1929. Instead of using the new medium to attempt an imitation of art history, Nake’s composition is his very own interpretation of the play with micro and macro structures.

Thus, different fields such as mathematics, engineering, aesthetics and art history, overlap in the early days of computer graphics. Since 1972, Nake has been Professor of Computer Graphics and Interactive Systems at the University of Bremen, where he is currently working on economic, political and epistemological critique of computer science. Since 2005, he also teaches Digital Media at the Academy of Arts in Bremen. Nake had solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bremen and the ZKM Karlsruhe in 2004 and 2005. His work is shown in major international exhibitions on computer graphics.

Born 1938 in Stuttgart, Germany. Frieder Nake lives and works in Berlin.

1958-1964 Student of mathematics at the Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany
Attending Max Bense’s lectures on philosophy, semiotics, and aesthetics
1959 First encounter with a computer during an internship at IBM Germany, Computing Center in Böblingen
1963 First computer drawings at TH Stuttgart with the ZUSE Graphomat Z 64. Nake’s job was to develop the basic graphics software to connect the Graphomat to the SEL ER56 computer
1965 First exhibition of computer art at the Wendelin Niedlich Galerie in Stuttgart, together with Georg Nees
1967 Defense of doctoral thesis (Dr.rer.nat. in mathematics) at the University of Stuttgart
1968-1969 Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Research in computer art and graphics

1970-1972 Assistant Professor in computer science at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
1972-2004 Professor of computer science (graphic data processing and interactive systems) at University of Bremen, Germany
Research in computer graphics, digital media, computer art, interactive systems, computational semiotics, human-computer relations, and theory of computing science.
1988-2011 Visiting professor at:
University of Vienna, Austria, 1988
University of Oslo, Norway, 1995
University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, 1997/98
Northwest Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Xian, Shaanxi, China, 2000
University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2000/02/04/05
International School of New Media at Lübeck, Germany, 2003/05/06/07
University of Basel, Switzerland, 2007
University of Costa Rica, 2009
Tongji University Shanghai, China, 2011
Donau-University Krems, Austria, 2007/08/09/11/13/15
Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart 2012
Leuphana-Universität Lüneburg since 2013 every Wintersemester
Al-Quds University Ramallah, Palästina, 2020
2005 – 2019 Teaching assignments at the University of the Arts, Bremen, Germany

79 + 364, DAM GALLERY Berlin
Licht ins Dunkel, 25 x 50 Jahre Computerkunst, HFK Bremen, Germany
No Message Whatsoever: Frieder Nake & Friends, DAM GALLERY Berlin, Germany
compART, Algorithmus und Zufall, DAM GALLERY Berlin, Germany

analog – digital, Weserburg Museum für konkrete Kunst, Bremen, Germany
Immaterial/re-material: A brief history of computing art, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
Automat und Mensch, Kate Vass Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland
Writing the History of the Future. The ZKM Collection, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany
Chance and Control. Art in the Age of Computers, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Die Zukunft der Zeichnung: Algorithmus, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany
1968: Computer Art, Moravska Galerie, Brno, Czech Republic
Algorithmic Signs, Galleria di Piazza San Marco, Venedig, Italy
The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed: Art in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany
Pioneers of Computer Art. Digital Art from the 1960s and 1970s, RCM Galerie Paris, France
Computation Communication Aesthetics and X, Museu Nacional de Arte, Lisboa, Portugal
Kunst in Europa 1945-1968, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany
No Message Whatsoever: Frieder Nake & Friends, DAM GALLERY Berlin, Germany
Back to Back, DAM GALLERY Frankfurt, Germany
Meine Wunderkammer, DAM GALLERY Berlin, Germany
Think Line 2, DAM GALLERY Berlin, Germany
Drawing with Code: Works from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, USA
Think Line, DAM GALLERY Köln, Germany
Künstlerhaus Wien, Austria
Die Virtualität des Bildes. Frühe Computerkunst der Sammlung Clarissa, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany
Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland
Ex Machina – Frühe Computergrafik bis 1979, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany
Neue Tendenzen. Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt, Germany
Anfänge der Computergraphik, Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany
Die präzisen Vergnügen, Kunsthalle Bremen and ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany
Bitforms Gallery, New York, USA
25 Jahre Computerkunst – Grafik, Animation und Technik, BMW Pavillon, München, Germany
Computer Art, National Gallery of Modern Art, Neu Delhi, India
Auf dem Wege zur Computerkunst, Brunswiker Pavillon Cologne, Germany
Kunstverein Munich, Germany
Biennale Venice, Italia
Galerije Grada Zagreba, Zagreb, Croatia
Cybernetic Serendipity, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
Computer Graphic, Dum Umeni Mesta Brna (Februar)/ The Vysocina County Gallery in Jihlava (März)/ Oblastni galerie vytvarneho umení v Gottwaldove (April), Tschechische Republik
studio f, Ulm, Germany
Computer-Grafik Programme, Galerie Wendelin Niedlich, Stuttgart, Germany

First prize of the computer art contest of the US magazine Computers and Automation for his drawing „composition with squares“ (distributions of elementary signs)
Award for excellence and innovation in teaching, University of Bremen, Germany

Chief designer for virtual reconstructions of historic sites, on display in the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hannover, and the Stadtmuseum, Delmenhorst, Germany
Start of project compArt: a space for computer art (with Susanne Grabowski and Matthias Krauß)

Paragraphs on Computer Art, Past and Present. Frieder Nake, British Computer Society, Swinton, UK, 2010
Leslie Mezei. Frieder Nake and Peter Weibel, Springer Verlag, Wien/New York, 2005
Die erträgliche Leichtigkeit der Zeichen. Ästhetik, Semiotik, Informatik. Agis, Baden-Baden, 1993
Die präzisen Vergnügen. Frieder Nake and Diethelm Stoller, Sautter & Lackmann, Hamburg, 1993
20 Jahre Computergrafik. Frieder Nake. In: Umbruch – Zeitschrift für Kultur: „Schnittstellen“, Hager, Frankfurt, 1985
Ästhetik als Informationsverarbeitung. Grundlagen und Anwendungen der Informatik im Bereich ästhetischer Produktion und Kritik. Frieder Nake, Springer Verlag, Wien/ New York, 1974
Art Ex Machina (Portfolio). Frieder Nake u.v.m., Gilles Gheerbrant, Montréal, Canada, 1972
Erzeugung ästhetischer Objekte. Frieder Nake, in Rul Gunzenhäuser (Hrsg.), Nicht-numerische Informationsverarbeitung, Springer Verlag, Wien, 1968
Kunst aus dem Computer (Exakte Ästhetik 5). Frieder Nake u.v.m., Nadolski, Stuttgart, 1967
futura 13. Computergrafik. Frieder Nake, Edition Hans-Jörg Mayer, Stuttgart, 1966
Herstellung von zeichnerischen Darstellungen, Tonfolgen und Texten mit elektronischen Rechenanlagen. Darmstadt, 1966

79 + 364, DAM Berlin, 15. December 2018 – 16. March 2019
CODE + POETRY, DAM Berlin, 8. April – 4. June 2016
AESTHETICA, DAM Berlin, 29. May – 1. August 2015
NO MESSAGE WHATSOEVER: FRIEDER NAKE & FRIENDS, DAM Berlin, 16. November 2013 – 25. January 2014
BACK TO BACK, DAM GALLERY Frankfurt, 20. February – 4. May 2013
MEINE WUNDERKAMMER, DAM Berlin, 1. December 2012 – 13. February 2013
THINK LINE 2, DAM Berlin, 19. December 2011 – 21. January 2012
THINK LINE, DAM GALLERY Köln, 4. September – 6. November 2010
BEST OF DIGITAL ART, DAM Berlin, 7. April – 23. May 2009
compART, ALGORITHMUS UND ZUFALL, DAM Berlin, 26. November 2005 – 25. January 2006