Dallas museum offers spellbinding show on kineticism in art
DALLAS – Exploring the power of kineticism in art, the special exhibition Movement: The Legacy of Kineticism is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through July 16. Featuring 80 works drawn from the museum’s collection, Movement showcases the work of artists from three historical eras, beginning in the early 20th century and spanning through present day, who utilize optical effects or mechanical or manipulable parts to engage the viewer physically or perceptually.
This exhibition demonstrates how artists working today have been influenced by the long legacy of dynamic abstraction, from the utopian work by the avant-garde in Russia, Europe and the Americas to the European “Op” artists and Brazilian Neoconcretists working in the 1960s. This style of work engulfs the visitor in their surroundings and empowers them to participate in its co-creation. Movement is organized by the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, and is on view at the DMA as its sole venue.
“The artwork in this exhibition engages the viewer directly, at the core of their perceptual facilities in the mind and body, eliminating the distance so often felt between viewer and art in a museum,” said Dr. Brodbeck. “While the show spans over a hundred years of historical artistic experimentation, the experience remains fresh and personal, remade with every encounter. We invite visitors of all ages to come explore this legacy.”
Movement: The Legacy of Kineticism traces the origins and evolution of kineticism through three distinct time periods, unifying two-dimensional paintings, three-dimensional sculptures, projections and interactive objects. Viewers will encounter both contemporary and historical works of kineticism, demonstrating the legacy of early artists in real time. Through the play on the relationship between the mechanical and organic, the digital and the natural, viewers are empowered to engage with their work. Upon entering the exhibition, viewers are invited to activate artist Valeska Soares’ 2006 installation Vagalume (Firefly) by switching overhead light fixtures on and off through the manipulation of a sea of hanging pull chains, creating an impermanent and deeply personal art experience that conjures the childlike wonder that inspired the artist to create the installation.
The history of interest in viewer engagement is long. Artists of early 20th-century avant-garde movements departed from representational art in favor of geometric abstraction, aiming to reconfigure the relationship between art and viewer, as art would dissolve into daily life. The historical precedents established in the 1910s and 20s movements of Suprematism, Constructivism and De Stijl acted as a basis for more radical artistic advancements in the mid-20th century. Works such as Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray and illustrations by Russian artist El Lissitzky exemplify the idealistic and groundbreaking foundations that characterize this era. The impact of these movements can be felt in the decades that followed, in the works by later kinetic, Op and installation artists in the exhibition.
At mid-century, artists were attracted to the utopian goals of the avant-garde, especially as the European economy recovered from World War II and industrialization intensified in the Americas, which allowed for technological advancement with far-reaching impact. In the US, Europe and Venezuela, kinetic and Op artists explicitly incorporated mechanical movement or optical effects through the dynamism of color and form. Elsewhere in Latin America, especially Brazil and Argentina, artists associated with those movements emphasized spectator participation through direct manipulation of the object by the viewer, or the movement of the viewer through a sensorial environment. Works by such midcentury artists as Victor Vasarely, “grandfather” of the Op art movement, and Brazilian Constructivist Lygia Clark are positioned with contemporary works, such as the video installation Panning Annex (Albert) by Ricci Albenda, to illustrate the enduring power of movement in art to enliven our experience of the world around us.
“As the city’s museum, we recognize the importance of showcasing artists that reflect our diverse communities,” said the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director, Dr. Agustin Arteaga. “We are incredibly grateful to have such a wide breadth of vibrant and engaging works that not only track the development of kineticism but also highlight the various global cultures that have advanced the movement to where it is today.”
Visit the website of the Dallas Museum of Art and see its dedicated page for Movement: The Legacy of Kineticism.