On: Kinetic Art

The term kinetic art is applied to sculpture in which physical motion plays an important role. The parts of a kinetic sculpture may be moved mechanically or by natural means. Kinetic art is a 20th-century phenomenon and was created by artists who saw it as valuable metaphor for the rhythms of a mechanical age. The Italian Futurists were the first to emphasize physical motion as the dominant element of an aesthetic theory. Similar ideas were put forward by Marcel Duchamp, whose Mobile: Bicycle Wheel (1913) is thought to have been the first sculpture to use physical movement. 


After World War I, Soviet Constructivist sculptors incorporated the idea of motion into their dynamic works. Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin conceived a completely kinetic Monument to the Third International, which was never executed. Ideas of kinetic art were developed further by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who, while working during the 1920s at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, experimented with light and color.


In 1932, Alexander Calder created the first true mobile, whose parts move in air currents. Calder’s mobiles inspired a resurgence of kinetic art by such artists as Jean Tinguely in the 1950s and ’60s and the contemporary sculptor George Rhoads, whose “audiokinetic” works carry the possibilities of motion in objects, light, and sound to intriguing and humorous conclusions.

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