Catenary Rhythms (reconstruction 1982)
In Catenary Rhythms Anthony Hill experiments with using mathematical systems to construct abstract compositions. The relationships between root rectangles and catenary curves in this monochrome painting have been arranged by Hill to create a carefully balanced experience of pure geometric form.
Hill started working on the composition for Catenary Rhythms in the early 1950s. After many preliminary studies, he collaborated with a structural engineer to accurately draw out the catenary curves in the final arrangement. A photograph of the engineer’s drawing was made into a print, measuring just over 1m x 2m, which Hill painted over in black and white Ripolin, and mounted on board. 
In 1954 this early version of Catenary Rhythms was part of the experimental exhibition Artist vs Machine at the Building Centre in London, which highlighted abstract artists’ creative use of industrial materials and techniques. Hill’s painting was shown next to a relief by Mary Martin and photographs of reliefs by Charles Biederman, who had been an influential figure for Hill.  Catenary Rhythms was destroyed after Artist vs Machine. However, studies and images of the work continued to circulate. A reproduction was included in the influential book Nine Abstract Artists, published at the end of 1954 to draw attention to contemporary non-figurative art in Britain. 
Catenary Rhythms was reconstructed for Anthony Hill’s major retrospective exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London (20 May – 10 July 1983), where it was shown alongside nine studies for the original work. The artist consequently donated this version of Catenary Rhythms to the University of East Anglia’s pioneering collection of abstract and constructivist art, which had been initiated by Alastair Grieve in the 1960s. 
Lisa Newby, February 2021
 Alastair Grieve, ‘The development of Anthony Hill’s work from 1950 to the present’ in Anthony Hill, A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat. (London: Hayward Gallery, 1983), pp.5-67 (p.18). For a detailed discussion of Hill’s early paintings, including Catenary Rhythms, see Sam Gathercole, ‘The Geometry of Syntactics, Semantics and Pragmatics: Anthony Hill’s Concrete Paintings’, Tate Papers, No.31 (Spring 2019), https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/31/anthony-hill-concrete-paintings
 Alastair Grieve, Constructed Abstract Art in England: A Neglected Avant-Garde (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2005), p.28.
Lawrence Alloway, Nine Abstract Artists: their work and their theory (London: Tiranti, 1954), fig.24.
 For an account of the early development of this collection see Alastair Grieve, ‘A Retrospective View or the University Art Collection’, The University of East Anglia Collection of Abstract and Constructivist Art, Architecture and Design, ed. Veronica Sekules (Norwich: University of East Anglia, 1994), p.7.
Anthony Hill: A Retrospective Exhibition, Hayward Gallery, London, 1983
Constructed, 40 Years of the UEA Collection, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, 2008
'Rhythm and Geometry: Constructivist art in Britain since 1951', Sainsbury Centre, UK, 02/10/2021 - 17/07/2022
'Rhythm and Geometry: Constructivist art in Britain since 1951', Djanogly Art Gallery, UK, 07/03/2023 - 23/07/2023
Tania Moore and Calvin Winner (eds.), Rhythm and Geometry: Constructivist art in Britain since 1951 (Norwich: Sainsbury Centre, 2021), pp.136-37.
Not on display
Title/Description: Catenary Rhythms (reconstruction 1982)
Artist/Maker: Anthony Hill Richard Plank
Born: 1953 - 1982
Object Type: Painting
Materials: Ink, Paint, Paper, Wood
Measurements: h 616 x w 1227 x d 32 mm (675 x 1291 x 67 mm framed)
Accession Number: 31301
Historic Period: 20th century
Production Place: Britain