Thursday, April 26, 2012

Keeping it moving

Charles Atlas, Painting by Numbers, 2011, video (Photo: Carol Diehl)

When I first saw the impressively wall-size Charles Atlas video installations at Luhring Augustine Bushwick (up through July 15th) I was excited. Animated abstraction—they could be paintings come to life. But unlike a good painting, where your interest grows the more you look at it (I’m thinking of my experience with the de Koonings at MoMA) these pieces, upon extended viewing, became more repetitious and tedious. How could that be? Video and film, just by being able to incorporate movement, should be more interesting than, say (for comparison, given the scale) a Sol LeWitt wall drawing. And it can happen: Nam June Paik, who started the whole video phenom, was a master of surprise. Christian Marclay’s film smorgsbords can keep you transfixed for, well, 24 hours.

But then not all that looks new, is new. On his Facebook page, British artist Alasdair Duncan, who I met when he was installing his exhibition at  Stephanie Theodore in Bushwick, posted examples of abstract animation that offer some historical perspective. Enjoy! And thank you, Alasdaire.

Len Lye, “Trade Tattoo,” 1932, made in association with the British General :
Post Office:

Len Lye, “Color Flight,” 1937, also made in association with the British General Post Office.

More Len Lye here and here.

John Whitney, “Catalog,”1961

John Whitney, “Matrix III,” 1972


wylie goodman said...

Okay, forgive the popular culture reference, but having just finished watching Martin Scorsese's film "Hugo" (literally just finished watching), it was such a pleasure to see this post. A further reminder of all the great, often unknown, artists out there still to be discovered by the uninitiated among us. xo Wylie

P Brobbel said...

Thank you for the nod to Len Lye.

For anyone interested in Lye please have a look at the plans for the Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, New Zealand

For anyone in the States the Whitney is currently exhibiting 'Fountain' one of Lye's kinetic sculptures or 'tangible motion sculptures' in their 'Singular Visions' exhibition.

Paul Brobbel
Assistant Curator Len Lye
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, NZ