James Siena

b. 1957 in Oceanside, CA; lives in New York, NY


James Siena creates intricate geometric patterns from what he describes as self-imposed, predetermined sets of rules, or “visual algorithms.” He works across a broad range of media, with printmaking, drawing, and painting at the center of his practice.  

Siena was invited to create the 2012 Collectors Club print, resulting in the elegant lithograph Sagging Infected Triangular Grid. He explains the process and his singular handling of geometric forms this way:  

The triangular grid image is something I’ve been exploring for a few years now. It’s an interactive procedure that makes the image: 1. Draw a diagonal line connecting two opposite corners of the rectangle (making two triangles). 2. Draw a perpendicular line from the hypotenuse of each triangle that intersects the vertex of the two remaining sides (making four triangles). 3. Repeat. Sounds simple, and it is, but complexities arise when move #2 is repeated many, many, many times, and it becomes harder to keep track of whether or not the move is made consistently across the field of ever increasing triangles. That is the human side of the thing. I’m sure programmers can devise algorithms that can do this perfectly, but that’s not the point, and in this print, the process is further corrupted and made human by the sagging of the grid (a unidirectional distortion approximating gravity and weight), and the “infection” of the intersections (locking the grid together in one plane, turning triangles into cells).” 

Siena’s work is held in numerous prestigious public and private collections, including the Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. 

Behind Closed Drawers: James Siena