Desmond Paul Henry 1921 - 2004

British Pioneer of Computer Art | 1960's Precursor to Digital Art.

A collection of rare archive items

(The Manchester Guardian, 1962)

(The Manchester Guardian, 1962)

The machine in action

"The computer, which hums a drowsy dirge to itself while working, is only a fraction of the size of the giant Atlas computer at the University (of Manchester). The Ideograph analogue computer is a mere two feet square and consists of a host of dials, springs, coils, gears, small electric motors and little flashing lights.

Dr. Henry keeps the computer in front of his desk in the bay window of his book-lined study. The computer draws with three individually suspended spring-loaded ball-point pens filled with colored inks which it wields in its shiny chrome hand. The paper or card on which the drawing is done is attached to an easel which can move in a horizontal plane at the same time as the computer's hand is drawing on it."

Drawing Machine Number3

Drawing Machine Number3

Four newspaper articles featuring the artist.

Below is a collection of four press cuttings taken from various British newspapers.
Each example opens in Lightbox for you to view.

Rare Interview with Desmond Paul Henry

In the last few years before Desmond Paul Henry passed away in 2004 Elaine O'hanrahan interviewed the artist. Featured below are a selection of sound files capturing that day. Hear him talk about his life, passions and his art.

British Computer Art Pioneer

Exhibitions: Desmond Paul Henry (1921-2004)

 

 

2015 (Dec)

COMPUTER DRAWING EXHIBITION: DP HENRY AND BEYOND (Dec.2015)

Two Leicester venues:The Phoenix Café Bar (11 original Henry drawings) and LCB Depot LightBox  (three drawings by each artist: DP Henry, Patrick Tresset, Jack Tait, Damon Roberts, Esther Rolinson and Damien Borowik) Exhibition curator: Sean Clark of Interact Digital Arts, The Phoenix, Leicester.

 

 

2015 (July)

Starting July 24th. five drawings by Desmond Paul Henry will be featured in a group exhibition Luminous Flux v2.0 at Art House in Santa Fe, USA. The exhibition contains digital, electroluminescent, algorithmic and interactive art from the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s collection. Henry’s works will be exhibited alongside works by: Jim Campbell, Craig Dorety, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath, Peter Sarkisian, Björn Schülke, John F. Simon, Jr., Anne Morgan Spalter, Siebren Versteeg and Leo Villareal.

2015 (June)

Starting June 27th at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Vermont (USA), Art + Computer/Time (i.e., art plus computer over time) presents computer-generated artwork from the Anne and Michael Spalter Digital Art Collection. Fifteen of the most important early practitioners of digital art are represented in the exhibit, including Desmond Paul Henry. Seven recent digital videos by Leslie Thornton and Anne Morgan Spalter are also shown, including their new collaboration, “Digging in the Water.”

Presently comprising more than 1,000 works collected over the past twenty years and encompassing works from 1954 to the present, the Spalter Collection is one of the most comprehensive bodies of early computer art in the world.

2014 (April)

A-EYE, Goldsmiths, University of London, April 2014. An original Henry was exhibited at this exhibition which ran concurrently with the AISB-50 symposium.

2013

Digital Art (R)evolution (2013), Dédée Shattuck Gallery, Westport, MA, USA. Original Henrys from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection were exhibited alongside other renowned pioneers of digital art.

2012 (Oct)

blincdigital, Conwy, North Wales. Six Desmond Paul Henry originals were exhibited, alongside a selection of Henry images which were also screened. Henry’s links with his former Manchester University colleague, Alan Turing, were also highlighted at the exhibition.

2011 (August)

Tracy Peet, who works for EPCC, a supercomputing department in the University of Edinburgh, requested permission to include Henry images in a forthcoming corridor display showing the cultural and technical developments relating to computing from the 1940s to the present.

2011 (Feb - May)

Desmond Paul Henry: Manchester Pioneer of Computer Art, MOSI, Manchester, UK. This SOLO exhibition was held at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester and is referenced by the New York Times and the BBC.

2011 (Jan)

Drawing with Code, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum Lincoln, MA, USA. Henry originals from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection were included in the exhibition. This exhibition provided a window into the past with some of the best examples of fruitful collaboration between technology and art.

2010 (March - April)

Atrocity Exhibition, Feinkost Gallery, Berlin,(6/3/2010 to 20/04/2010). Two Henry originals were requested by gallery curator Aaron Moulton for inclusion in this exhibition in homage to J. G. Ballard.

2010 (Feb)

Kinetica Art Fair, University of Westminster, London. Four Henry originals were exhibited in the Cybernetic Serendipity feature section of this exhibition. Daughter Elaine O'Hanrahan gave a talk on her father's work as an early British Computer Art pioneer.

2009 - 2010 (Feb - June)

Digital Pioneers, Senior Curator Doug Dodds kindly included at very short notice a D.P. Henry picture from the V & A collections archive.

1976 (Dec)

North West Artists, Manchester Evening News premises. Henry exhibited drawings produced by Drawing Machine Three.

1969 (Aug)

Cybernetic Serendipity on tour in the U.S.A. Venues included the Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C and the Exploratorium, San Francisco. Henry’s Drawing Machine Two went on tour with this exhibition from which it returned completely damaged circa 1972.

1968 (Aug - Oct)

Cybernetic Serendipity, I.C.A, London. Drawing Machine Two together with its machine-generated images were exhibited at this major Computer Art show of the 1960’s.

1965 (July)

Frape Memorial Exhibition, Salford Art gallery. Henry exhibited a selection of pictures, together with other artists including L.S. Lowry, in memory of Mr. A. Frape, the former director of Salford Art Gallery who died in Nov. 1963.

1965 (Feb)

A performance of creative dance based around the stimuli of Henry’s ‘computer-drawn’ pictures was held at the Mather College, Manchester.

1964 (Oct)

One-man show of machine-produced drawings at Central Library, Manchester.

1962 (Oct)

Crumpsall Library: one-man exhibition of machine-drawings.

1962 (Sept)

Machine Drawings, Salford Art Gallery. This solo exhibition was claimed by Henry to be ‘the world’s first one-machine show’.

1962 (Sept)

Ideographs, The Reid Gallery, London’s West End. This exhibition was Henry’s one-man prize-show for winning the London Opportunity competition. Here Henry exhibited watercolours, graphics on photo-paper and for the first time, “machine-drawings”.

1961 (July-Aug)

London Opportunity, Salford Art Gallery. This was a local art competition for artists living within a 50 mile radius of Salford. Henry became the winner of this art competition with a picture which used, as its first stage for inspiration, effects produced using Henry’s unique photochemical technique. One of the judges for the prize was artist L.S. Lowry, who visited Henry’s home and on seeing his first drawing machine suggested he include ‘machine-drawings’ in his competition prize, a one-man show in London..

1955 (Sept)

Artists with North Country Associations, Manchester City Art Gallery. Here Henry exhibited an ink drawing.

1949-82

Staff art shows, Manchester University. Pictures exhibited while a lecturer and reader in Philosophy.

1946-49

Student art shows, Leeds University. Drawings exhibited while a student.

Desmond Paul Henry in the Media

2015

In May, Elaine’s manuscript for an article on Henry’s contribution to computer art was accepted by the renowned Art and Technology magazine, Leonardo. The article will appear in a 2016 issue of the magazine.

2014

O’Hanrahan, Elaine (April 2014), AISB-50 symposium, Goldsmiths, London, delivered a paper entitled: Artistic intuition meets technical ingenuity: the unique contribution to Digital Art History of 1960’s computer art pioneer, Desmond Paul Henry (1921-2004). 

Paul, Gill and Roberts, Andrew, (2014) World War II Love Stories: At a Time of Global Conflict and Upheaval, the True Stories of 14 Couples Who Found Love, Ivy Press. The amazing story of how Henry met and married his Belgian wife, Louisa Bayen, following his participation in the Normandy Landings of 1944.

Jones, Daniel, (Feb. 2014), ‘Art and Algorithm’, tankmagazine.com (online).

Feb. 2014: watch Elaine give a talk on her father’s work at the Phoenix, Leicester: http://www.seanclark.me.uk/videos.html It is on the first line, third one along from the left. (Accessed: 20/05/2014)

2013

May 2013: Permission was granted to Dr. Melissa Langdon (Schools of Arts and Sciences, University of Notre Dame) to publish an image of Henry’s (no. 003, 1962) in a forthcoming text on globalization and digital art (Springer 2013). The image is used in the context of discussing the emergence of digital art, and early forms of creative expression.

Owens, Susan (2013) The Art of Drawing: British Masters and Methods since 1600,V & A Publishing, London, p. 185. 

Henry picture to be included in an educational book on the Arts for the 9th Grade, by ICONOGRAFIA, Oxford University Press, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Henry is referred to as a Computer Art Pioneer.

Ricardo, Francisco J. (2013) The Engagement Aesthetic: Experiencing New Media Art through Critique, International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics, Bloomsbury Academic, New York, pp.62-63. About the Author: Francisco J. Ricardo, Ph.D., writes about contemporary and new media art theory and criticism. Affiliated with the University Professors of Boston University, he is co-founder of the Digital Video Research Archive, and also teaches digital media theory at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Henry at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London: ‘Computer Art: technology and terminology’ [online] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/c/technology-and-terminology/ (Accessed: 28/02/2013)

Henry at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London: ‘V&A Search the Collections’ [online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/name/henry-desmond-paul/46167/ (Accessed: 28/02/2013)

2012

blincdigital, [exh.] Conwy (Nov. 2012)

Henry cited in: Beck, Paul (2012) Make Amazing Spiral Art, Sterling Innovation, New York, p.19 (Description and image of Henry’s Drawing Machine One).

Henry illustration in: Breward C. and Wood G.( eds.) (2012) British Design from 1948: Innovation in the Modern Age. London: V&A, p.362 (Full-page Henry illustration). 

2011

O'Hanrahan, Elaine ( Sept. 2011) ‘Desmond Paul Henry: Computer Art's 'missing link'’, (academic paper) REWIRE, the Fourth International Conference on Media Histories, Science and Technology held at Liverpool John Moore's University Art and Design Academy.

Fraguas, Antonio ‘Y la máquina empuñó el pincel,’  El Pais  (07/03/2011)

Grant, KatieManchester exhibition to commemorate work of ‘Huddersfield’s Picasso’ Desmond Paul Henry’, Huddersfield Examiner (28/02/2011)

Rawsthorn, Alice, ‘When Desmond Paul Henry Traded His Pen for a Machine’ International Herald Tribune/New York Times p.10 (27/02/2011)

Alice Rawsthorn’s strapline reads: “British teacher’s tinkering with computers in ‘60s heralded digital art”.

Henry cited in: Saville, Peter ‘Computer Art Pioneer’, Front Row BBC RADIO 4 (23/02/2011)

Walters, Sarah, ‘ Machine Artist is Finally Honoured’, Metro p.45 (15/02/2011)

Walters, Sarah, ‘Celebrating the City’s Mechanical Picasso’, in ‘City Life Arts’, The Manchester Evening News, p.14 (11/02/2011)

O’Hanrahan, Elaine and Claire (eds.) (Feb. 2011) Desmond Paul Henry: Manchester Pioneer of Computer Art [Exh.Cat.] MOSI. Contributors: Balint Bolygo, Professor Paul Brown, Professor Jagjit Chuhan, Douglas Dodds, Michael Spalter, Dr. Jack Tait, Elaine O’Hanrahan

Natalie Johnson (April 2011) contributed a feature on Henry for Digital Artist (imagine publishing).

2010

Henry cited in: Women's Wear Weekly (New York, Dec. 2010) Max Azria (of 'Bon chic Bon genre' fame- BCBG) recognises the influence of Henry's machine-art on his fabric designs, examples of which were included in this edition. Azria refers to Henry's work as 'Timeless, effortless and relevant'.

Henry cited in: Kinetica Art Fair [Exh. Cat.], Kinetica Museum (Feb.2010) p.48 (‘Kinetic Masters’ feature section). Daughter Elaine O’Hanrahan presented a talk on Henry’s career as a Computer Art pioneer.

Henry illustration in: Gemtronic (August 2010) Swarovsky Gems, p.11

Henry cited in: Kinetica Art Fair [Exh. Cat.], Kinetica Museum (Feb.2010) p.48 (‘Kinetic Masters’ feature section)

2007

www.desmondhenry.com was created in 2007 by Aly Sebastien of Redinko

O’Hanrahan, Elaine, (2007) ‘Desmond Paul Henry on Wikipedia

2006

Henry cited in: Levy, David (2006) Robots Unlimited-Life in a Virtual Age, A.K.Peters, Wellesley, U.S.A, pp. 178-180.

O’Hanrahan, Elaine,(2005)Drawing Machines’: The Machine Produced Drawings of Dr. D.P. Henry in Relation to Conceptual and Technological Developments in Machine-Generated Art (UK 1960-68) (MPhil thesis, unpublished; John Moores University, Liverpool):

2004

O’Hanrahan, Elaine (2004), ‘Desmond Paul Henry: How World War Two changed one man’s life for the better’, WW2 People’s War,BBC [online]

2001

Henry cited in: Roberts, Emma (2001) ‘Intercultural Drawing Practice: the Art School Response’ in Chuhan, Jagjit (ed.) Responses: intercultural drawing practice, CAIR, LJMU, pp. 40-47.

1994

Henry, D.P (1991) Medieval Mereology, B.R. Grüner Publishing Company.

1990

Henry cited in: Mannings, David (1990),‘Computer Art’. In  David Crystal (ed.) (1990), The Cambridge Encyclopaedia,Cambridge University press, Cambridge, p.289. Here Henry is accorded pioneer status.

1984

Henry, D.P (1984) That Most Subtle Question (Quaestio Subtilissima): The Metaphysical Bearing of Medieval and Contemporary Linguistic Disciplines, Manchester University Press.

1977

Henry, D.P (1977) Teaching and Study companion for use with ‘Philosophy in the Middle Ages’. Hyman and Walsh, Hackett.publications.

1974

Henry, D.P (1974) Commentary on ‘De Grammatico’: The Historical-Logical Dimensions of a Dialogue of St. Anselm’s, Reidel.

1972

Henry, D.P (1972) Medieval Logic and Metaphysics: A Modern Introduction, Hutchinson University Library.

1969

Henry (1969) ’The End or the Beginning?’Solem, (Manchester Students’ Union magazine), pp. 25-27.
Henry illustration in: Databank (summer 1969), (Leasco House Magazine), Ted Hagan, Holland, p.2: Henry picture ‘Conversation’, 1962.

1968

Henry (1968) ‘The Henry Drawing Computer’, Cybernetic Serendipity [Exh. Cat.], Studio International, London, p.50.

1967

Henry, D.P (1967) The Logic of St. Anselm , The Clarendon Press, Oxford. (Reprinted by Gregg Revivals, Aldershot)

1964

Henry (1964) ‘Art and Technology’, Bulletin of The Philosophy of Science Group, Newman Association, no.53.

‘Dr. Henry and his Painting Machine’ The Independent (03/11/64)

Henry, D.P (1964) The ‘De Grammatico’ of St. Anselm: The Theory of Paronymy, Notre Dame University Press.

1963

Henry was interviewed by George Will (Sept. 1963) to be featured in the prestigious American LIFE magazine. The article was scrapped following the assassination of U.S President J. F. Kennedy.

1962

‘Exhibition of Machine-Drawn Pictures’ The Easel (Autumn 1962) p.16-17

‘Computer Does Drawings- Thousands of Lines in each’ The Manchester Guardian (17/09/62)

Frenchman, Michael, ‘The Computer that Draws and Paints’ Time and Tide (13-20/09/62)

The BBC’s first programme in the “North at Six” series (Sept. 1962). Henry was interviewed and demonstrated his first drawing-machine.

Newton, Eric, ‘Ideographs at the Reid Gallery’ The Manchester Guardian (31/08/62).

‘Salford Fashions’ The Daily Telegraph (30/08/62)

‘Pictures by Robot Artist- enter Picasso of Machine Age’ The Manchester Evening News (30/08/62)

‘Doodling at 12 guineas a time’ The Daily Herald (30/08/62)

‘A Robot Draws the Doctor’s Pictures’ The Evening Herald (30/08/62)

Ideographs, [Exh. Cat.] The Reid Gallery, London (Aug-Sept 1962)

1961

Partington, Dave, ‘The Raw Materials of Art’ The Independent (20/10/61)

‘A Philosopher beats 1,000 in art contest’ The Universe, (28/07/1961)

‘A Huddersfield Artist’s Success’The Yorkshire Post (26/07/1961)

‘Lecturer Wins One-Man Show Art Prize’ The Daily Telegraph (07/07/1961)

‘Triumph for a Doodler; London Showing as Art Prize’ The Manchester Guardian (July 1961)

Best of 1,000 pictures’ Manchester Evening News (July 1961)

1955

Artists with a North Country Association, [Exh. Cat.] Manchester City Art Gallery (summer 1955)

1949

‘400 students attend art festival in Leeds’The Yorkshire Post (01/01/1949)
“ Noteworthy is a massive head by D.P. Henry, of Leeds University”

1948

Oliver, W.T ‘Leeds University Art Exhibition: High-spirited works’ The Yorkshire Post (12/05/1948)

“D.P.Henry’s many exhibits show him to be prolific in experiment…….There is evidence of an alert and subtle mind in his best work.’ (Oliver, 1948)

1947

‘University Art: virile exhibition in Leeds’ The Yorkshire Post (06/05/1947)
“But the outstanding contributions are undoubtedly the powerful allegory ‘Megapolitan Golgotha’ and other drawings by Desmond Paul Henry”.