Kinetic Art

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Kinetic art is art that contains moving parts or depends on motion for its effect. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor or the observer. ‘Bicycle Wheel’ (1913) by Marcel Duchamp, is said to be the first kinetic sculpture. Besides being an example of kinetic art it is also an example of a readymade, a type of art of which Duchamp made a number of varieties throughout his life.

László Moholy-Nagy, a member of the Bauhaus, is one of the fathers of Lumino kinetic art. Light sculpture and moving sculpture are the components of his ‘Light-Space Modulator’ (1922–30), One of the first Light art pieces which also combines kinetic art. The 1950s and 1960s are seen as a golden age of kinetic sculpture, during which time Alexander Calder and George Rickey pioneered kinetic sculpture.

Some kinetic sculptures are wind-powered as are those of Theo Jansen (including beach ‘animals’), and others are motor driven as are those of Sal Maccarone. The kinetic aspect of the Maccarone sculptures are contained within a fine wood cabinet which itself is stationary. These sculptures turn themselves on and off at predetermined intervals sometimes catching viewers by surprise.

A mobile is a type of kinetic sculpture constructed to take advantage of the principle of equilibrium. It consists of a number of rods, from which weighted objects or further rods hang. The objects hanging from the rods balance each other, so that the rods remain more or less horizontal. Each rod hangs from only one string, which gives it freedom to rotate about the string. A popular creator of mobile sculptures was Alexander Calder.

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