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Future is now: Athena Society fetes acquisition of AI work

Anke Van Wagenberg and Sherry Ann Dayton.

When members of the Vero Beach Museum of Art Athena Society met for their annual dinner, they took a leap into the future with the vote to purchase “Pacific Ocean A, B, C 2022 (triptych)” an absorbing artificial intelligence data painting by the trailblazing artist, Turkish American Refik Anadol (1985).

Athena Society households, which now number a record 124, contribute an additional dues of $5,000 on top of their membership in the Chairman’s Club level or above. Each household is entitled to two votes to cast at the dinner to select significant art acquisitions for the museum’s permanent collection.

“It’s really very different,” says Anke Van Wagenberg, VBMA senior curator of the selected piece.

Regarded as a visionary AI artist, Anadol combines art and technology to transform publicly available datasets into fluid digital artworks that are shown on high-quality monitors, similar to plasma TVs. The result is a mesmerizing artistic experience.

For this work, Anadol utilized Pacific Ocean weather prediction datasets to produce three screens that continuously play individual 16-minute video loops, each one flowing with movement in soothing hues of blue and aqua.

Van Wagenberg had searched art fairs and galleries to select four impressive and completely dissimilar works for the Athena Society to choose from.

The other offerings were: “Three Hearts from the Beginning of the Work 1986,” a colorful oil-on-canvas triptych by American artist Jim Dine (1935); “Portrait of Elizabeth Alexander 1924,” an exquisite oil on canvas by American artist George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925); and “Classical Head – Serenity c. 1917,” a stunning, Romanesque style, white marble bust on a square pink marble base by Polish American artist Elie Nadelman (1882-1946).

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Photos by Mary Schenkel

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