Conceptual artist Hanne Darboven was born in Munich and studied art in Hamburg. In 1966, she moved to New York and lived there for two years before returning to the family home in Hamburg. It was in New York where she first encountered conceptual art, especially that of her friend Sol LeWitt.
Darboven became known for her large scale minimalist installations of handwritten tables of numbers. Her early graph-paper drawings, crowded with calculations, seethed with mental energy. In addition to graph paper, her conceptual work used an expanded landscape of materials – calendars, magazine pages, and even language itself – to formulate her complex and sprawling allegories of time, history, and existence.
For “Das Jahr 1983” (The Year 1983), she used 378 postcards mounted on 27 boards to represent the days in a single year. Inspired by her stay in a clinic – due to neurological and psychological problems – and with very little room to work, she expressed her need to communicate on a daily basis by addressing the cards to family members and friends with her customary and obsessive attention.
In the 1980s, Darboven expanded her scope by including musical arrangements and photographs in her displays. In her “Mathematical Music” she converted numbers, contained in her rows and columns, into sounds. Numbers were assigned to certain notes and translated into musical scores. They were adapted into performable musical compositions
Darboven’s works have been presented in exhibitions in Germany, Europe, and America, specifically in New York’s Dia:Beacon, and in the Venice Biennale among others.