Nicolas Schöffer


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Hungarian-born sculptor and Kinetic artist who settled in Paris in 1937 and took French nationality. Early in his career he made sculpture in the Constructivist tradition and in 1948 he began making ‘spatiodynamic’ constructions—open towers constructed of plexiglass or thin metal plates from which light was reflected. To these he added movement (in 1950) and sound (in 1954). Financed by the electrical firm Philips and helped by their technicians, he created his first ‘cybernetic’ sculpture in 1956. This was a robot, CYSP 1, which responded to colours and sounds. In 1957 he gave a ‘luminodynamic’ spectacle at Grand Central Station, New York, and in 1961 at Liège he built a luminous, sound-emitting tower 52 metres high. His most ambitious schemes remained on paper: cities of leisure raised on pylons above the ground and other grandiose projects involving the conditioning of living-space by the most sophisticated technological means. However, Schöffer also made much smaller pieces, intended to be mass-produced and offered for sale at moderate prices. He was awarded the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale of 1968.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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