John A. Hiigli

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John Arden Hiigli (1943 – 2017) was an American artist, inventor and educator.

János Saxon-Szász & John Arden Hiigli discuss the Hypercross in Szokolya, Hungary 2009
Detail of Cr185 KALEIDOSCOPE. 2007-8. 108 X 108 in
Cr143 FOUR CUBOCTAHEDRA. 1999. 69 X 102 in

Life and work

Hiigli studied at the University of Indiana, majoring in Comparative Literature in 1964, and the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture for a Drawing Certificate in 1966. He returned to Empire State College for a Bachelor's degree in Education, alongside Bank Street Graduate School of Education for a Master's degree, both in 1983.[1]

A determining experience was learning about the theory of cognitive development of Jean Piaget, the Swiss genetic epistemologist. In line with this, Hiigli worked in early childhood education, in 1971 co-founding the French-American preschool Le Jardin A L'Ouest, with his wife: Dominique Bordereaux-Hiigli, and then Jardin Galerie[2] in 2000 on the principle that "Art is an essential component of child development, communication and education." Four times a year Hiigli holds exhibitions in a virtual gallery and a physical one on Manhattan's Upper West Side. These shows feature children from local schools and arts organizations with input from children all over the world working on themes such as trees, my family, my country, animals, sealife.

Another defining moment came in Hiigli’s life when he discovered Richard Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome in Wisconsin. He became interested in mathematics and in transformational geometry, and in 1970, came to know Fuller. They formed a master-disciple relationship and stayed in touch until Fuller's death in 1983. Hiigli's master's thesis at Bank Street Graduate School was on "John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Richard Buckminster Fuller".[1] Then Hiigli set out to organize synergetic geometry into a block system for children. For many years he built block systems and created complex structures, for which he received two United States Patents.[3][4]

In 2002, the conceptual artist John Sims introduced Hiigli to Gyuri Darvas, the founder of the International Symmetry Festival in Budapest, Hungary and Hiigli traveled there in 2003, 2006, and 2009 as a lecturer and exhibitor.

In 2006 he was invited to exhibit at the SupreMADIsm Art Festival and exhibition series in Moscow organized by the International Mobile MADI Museum, leading to years of collaboration in Hungary with the Hungarian painter János Saxon-Szász and his wife, the curator and writer, Zsusza Dardai.

On October 18th, 2017, 3:02 PM, he died in the Mary Manning Walsh Home.

Reception by artists and critics

His painting Chrome 163 at The Bridges Organization 2010 World Conference in Pécs, Hungary, impressed the mathematician Sarah Glaz, reporting on the conference's mathematical art exhibition, by the way it achieved a 4-dimensional effect. It used a digital print of a transparent oil on canvas painting, constructed with Hiigli's own building block system[3] for transforming geometric figures.[5] Hiigli stated that he meant the work to show "light of the heavens".[6] During the conference he also won first prize in the International ScienTile design competition, held by the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory.

Also in 2010, one of Hiigli's paintings of a cube and one by Vandorn Hinnant of a circle at New York's Bowery Poetry Club inspired the actor Summer Hill Seven to "create and perform a poetic response", which he called "squircle", describing the result in his book Squircular.[7]

In 2012, one of Hiigli's geometric paintings of nested polyhedra, "Cr 163: Cuboctahedron, Rhombic Dodecahedron, Octahedron II Tetrahedron, Octahedron: Top View Tetranet Series, 2002–2005", inspired a poem, "Gaze", by the Russian writer and artist Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya. The mathematical poet Charlotte Henderson described the poem as "also very geometric in content and form. I feel that it could be seen as the story of a ray of light striking the painting, passing through the nested polyhedra".[8]

Solo exhibitions

  • Geometric Transparency Studio Exhibit, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | March 18, 2009
  • The Light of the Heavens Studio Exhibit, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | December 10, 2008
  • Hypercross K.A.S Gallery, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 15 – September 15, 2006
  • Transfiguration paintings V.I.A. Art, NYC | April 1996

Group Shows

  • Synergetics Collaborative Art Show Opening Waterman Gallery, NYC – Waterman Building at the Rhode Island School of Design | November 2009
  • Circles & Squares with Vandorn Hinnant Bowery Poetry Club, NYC – curated by John Sims | September 11 – October 12, 2009. The first show of the exhibition series titled Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection
  • Lines – The Feeling of One Dimension Gallery B55, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | July 31 – August 5, 2009. International Symmetry Festival "Science in the Arts - Arts in the Sciences" Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Gallery B55 and International Mobil MADI Museum
  • Quest for the Intangible Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NYC – January 9 – February 3, 2009
  • Drawn From Nature Access Art, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | July 16–30, 2008
  • Sales Event: 6 Artists from the New York Studio School Access Art, NYC – curated by Sharon Goldberg | June 24 – 28, 2008
  • Transcendent Counterpoints Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NYC | January 4–29, 2008
  • Symmetry in Art and Science Education Europa Congress Center, Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 12–18, 2006. International Symmetry Festival 2006
  • supreMADIsm – Homage to the masters of Russian Constructivism Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | May 10 – June 22, 2006. International art festival and exhibition series at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
  • Symmetry: The Synthesis of Constancy and Change Budapest, Hungary – curated by Zsuzsa Dárdai | August 2003. International Symmetry Festival 2003
  • Rhythm of Structure: Math Art in Harlem FIRE PATROL N.5 ART Building, NYC – curated by John Sims | January 4, 2003
  • MATH ART/ART MATH Selby Gallery Ringling School of Art And Design Sarasota, Florida | March 2002
  • BLUE 450 Broadway Gallery, NYC | September 1996


  1. 1.0 1.1 "John Hiigli". 2013 Bridges Conference. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  2. "Jardin Galerie. A Children's Art Gallery". Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Geometric building block system employing sixteen blocks, eight each of only two tetrahedral shapes, for constructing a regular rhombic dodecahedron US 5249966 A". US PTO. 5 October 1993. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  4. "Connector and method for use thereof US 5067848 A". US PTO. 26 November 1991. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  5. Hiigli, John. Intertransformability. in Hart, GW and Sarhangi, R. (ed.), Bridges Pécs Proceedings 2010, Tessellations Publishing, Phoenix, AZ, 2010, pages 497-498
  6. Glaz, Sarah (2011). "The mathematical art exhibit at Bridges Pécs: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture, Pécs, Hungary, July 2010". Journal of Mathematics and the Arts 5 (2): 87–99. Template:Citation error. 
  7. Summer Hill Seven (2010). Squircular!: An Actor's Tale. AuthorHouse. p. 190– and passim. ISBN 978-1-4520-9565-3. 
  8. Henderson, Charlotte (6 January 2012). "For the Love of Poetry and Mathematics". Journal of Humanistic Mathematics 2 (2). 

External links

Template:Mathematical art

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