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Kinetic art


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(from Gk., kinesis: movement).

Term applied to art that moves or appears to move. In its broadest sense the term can encompass a great deal of phenomena, including cinematic motion pictures, happenings, and the animated clockwork figures found on clock towers in many cities of Europe. More usually, however, it is applied to sculptures such as Calder's mobiles that are moved either by air currents or by some artificial means—usually electronic or magnetic. In addition to works employing actual movement, there is another type of Kinetic art that produces an illusion of movement when the spectator moves relative to it (and Op art paintings are sometimes included within the field of Kinetic art because they appear to flicker). The idea of moving sculpture had been proposed by the Futurists as early as 1909, and the term ‘kinetic’ was first used in connection with the visual arts by Gabo and Antoine Pevsner in their Realistic Manifesto in 1920. Gabo produced an electrically driven oscillating wire construction in this year, and at the same time Marcel Duchamp was experimenting with Rotative Plaques that incorporated movement. Various other works over the next three decades are explorations in the same vein, such as Moholy-Nagy's Light-Space-Modulator (1922–30, Busch-Reisinger Mus., Harvard Univ.), one of a series of constructions he made using reflecting metals, transparent plastics, and sometimes mechanical devices to produce real movement. However, for many years Calder was the only leading figure who was associated specifically with moving sculpture (and many people regarded him as eccentric), and it was not until the 1950s that the phrase ‘Kinetic art’ became a recognized part of critical vocabulary; the exhibition ‘Le Mouvement’ at the Denise René Gallery, Paris, in 1955 was a key event in establishing it as a distinct genre. The artists represented in the exhibition included Agam, Bury, Calder, Duchamp, Tinguely, and Vasarely.

Subjects: Art.


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