Agnes Denes

The Kingdom Series: X-Ray of Sting Ray

"The Kingdom Series: X-Ray of Sting Ray" by Agnes Denes. You can see a framed picture. On a light background is a blue abstract shape.
Agnes Denes
The Kingdom Series: X-Ray of Sting Ray
Medium / Material / Technic
Four-color silkscreen print with metallic inks and hand coloring

Courtesy of Agnes Denes; Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York; acb Galéria, Budapest

In the late 1960s, the Hungarian-born American artist Agnes Denes was one of the first to form a connection between land art and environmental issues. Her work is rooted in the insight that our seemingly robust planet is in fact an extremely fragile construct whose infinite diversity and complexity lends it supreme beauty.

Denes transfers this large-scale perspective to minutiae in her series of x-ray images of natural objects. One example is the piece »X-Ray of Sting Ray«; the transparent view of the fish reveals its delicate and elegant anatomical features. “When I visualize (give form to) processes such as math and logic, or when I apply X-ray technology and electron microscopy to organic and crystal structures, one might say I reveal well-defined symmetries and antisymmetries.” (Agnes Denes, 1986)

Denes’ work can be characterized by the concept of “ecological aesthetics of nature,” which philosopher Gernot Böhme coined in opposition to the traditional understanding of natural aesthetics. The beauty of an object is no longer a mere source of pleasure; it is politically charged because it makes our alienation from nature palpable and reminds us of our responsibility for it.