Enlightening: the History of Kinetic Art
“Kinetic art was created by artists who pushed the boundaries of traditional, static art forms to introduce visual experiences that would engage the audience and profoundly change the course of modern art. –Theo Jansen
Although its history is deep, Kinetic art wasn’t established as a major artistic movement until the 1950s. Kinetic Art has been around since the early 20th century but it did not become a modern art form until a few artists, including Naum Gabo and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy began to use electric machinery in their sculptures. In the 1950 and 60s however in Europe, Kinetic Art fell out of fashion because the mechanical age ushered in a digital era and artists began to experiment with computers video, film and lasers.
Interest in Kinetic art concepts dates back to 1913 during the Dada and Constructivist movements. Artists like Jean Tinguely, a Swiss painter and sculptor, were fascinated by the possibilities of movement in art and the potential to create interactive relationships and visual experiences that went beyond the boundaries of traditional, static objects. Tinguely created sculptures that would have a more active presence both in the gallery and outside.
His signature pieces included anthropomorphic assemblages of motors and light as well as brightly colored metal wheels. He encouraged the idea that the beauty of an object could be the product of optical illusions or mechanical movement. The art form flourished for a decade, but because of the popularity of the Op art movement, many artists lost interest. In 1955, however, Kinetic Art became an international trend followed by artists such as Soto, Takis, Agam and Schoffer.