Scan 415

Feature by

Manifestos on Kinetic Art

Kinetic art refers to art the depends on movement for its desired effect and is closely related to op art. Notable artists in the art form include Alexander Calder, Naum Gabo and Bruno Munari. Upon scanning a few of the inner inserts from the Kinetics exhibition catalogue from the Hayward Gallery, London, 1970, I  came across these five small manifestos on kinetic art. The catalogue itself was designed by designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes and printed by Lund Humphrey’s. All seventy seven artists featured in the exhibition have their own double sided folded sheet, with portrait information and an image/s of their contribution.



Extract from ‘Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture’:

We must not forget that the tick-tock and the movement of the hands of a clock with the rise and fall of a piston in its cylinder, the meshing and unmeshing of two gears with the continual disappearance and reappearance of their little steel rectangles, the frenzy at a flywheel, the whirl of a propeller, all these are plastic and pictorial elements of which Futurist sculptural work must make use. For example, a valve opening and closing creates a rhythm as beautiful, but infinitely newer than that of a living eyelid.

Kinetics, Hayward Gallery, London, 1970. Designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes
Kinetics, Hayward Gallery, London, 1970. Designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes


Extracts from ‘Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe

The first plastic dynamic complex will be:
1. Abstract.
2. Dynamic. Relative motion (cinematographic) + absolute motion.
3. Very transparent. For the speed and volatility of the plastic complex, which must appear and disappear, very light and intangible.
4. Highly coloured and most luminous (using internal lights).
5. Autonomous, that is, resembling only itself.
6. Transformable.
7. Dramatic.
8. Volatile.
9. Odorous.
10. Noisy. Plastic noise simultaneous with plastic expression.
11. Explosive. Appearing and disappearing simultaneously with explosions.

Necessary Means: coloured wires of every thickness, of metal, wool, silk; coloured glass, tissue paper, celluloid, metal net, all sorts of highly coloured transparent materials, glass, metal laminates, coloured metal paper and all sorts of dazzling materials; mechanical, electronic, musical and noisy units, chemically luminous liquids of variable colours, springs, levers, tubes etc. With these means we will construct:
1. Plastic complexes that rotate on an axis (horizontal, vertical, oblique).
2. Plastic complexes that rotate on more than one axis:
a) in the same direction, at varying speeds;
b) in contrary directions;
c) in both the same and contrary directions.
3. Plastic complexes that decompose themselves:
a) in volumes;
b) in layers;
c) in successive transformations in the shape of cones, pyramids, spheres etc.
4. Plastic complexes that decompose, talk, make loud noises and play simultaneously.
5. Plastic complexes that appear and disappear:
a) slowly;
b) in repeated bursts (in scales);
c) with unexpected explosions. Pyrotechnics – water – fire- smoke.



Extracts from ‘Realist Manifesto’:

We know that everything has its own essential image: chair, table, lamp, telephone, book, house, man… they are all entire worlds with their own rhythms, their own orbits. That is why we, in creating things, take away from them the labels of their owners… all accidental and local, leaving only the reality of the constant rhythm of the forces in them. We affirm that the tone of a substance, i.e. its light absorbing material body, is only its pictorial reality. We affirm the line only as a direction of the static forces and their rhythm in objects. We affirm depth as the only pictorial and plastic form of space. We affirm in these arts a new element, Kinetic rhythms as the basic forms of our perception of real time. Look at a ray of sun the stillest of the still forces, it speeds more than 300 kilometres in a second … behold our starry firmament .. who hears it … and yet, what are our depots to those depots of the Universe? What are our earthly trains to those hurrying trains of the galaxies? We say … Space and time are reborn to us today. Space and time are the only forms on which life is built, and hence art must be constructed. States, political and economic systems perish, ideas crumble under the strain of ages .. but life is strong and grows and time goes on in its real continuity.


Kinetics Hayward Gallery London 1970. Designed by CrosbyFletcherForbes Calder 2 scaled


Extract from ‘Painting, Photography and Film’ on Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack’s ‘Reflected Colour Displays’:

First to reveal a profusion of the most delicate transitions and unexpected variations of coloured planes in motion. A movement of planes, prismatically controllable, which dissolves, conglomerates, resembling the colour organ in character. The establishment of a new space-time dimension of radiating light and controllable movement becomes even clearer in his spinning and plunging bands of light.
(From section ‘Static & kinetic optical composition’.)



Extract from “The New Vision’:

The five evolutionary stages of sculpture:
1. Blocked out form.
2. Modelled out form.
3. Open or perforated form and assembled construction.
4. Form in equipoise.
5. Kinetic sculpture.
Sensual apprehension of form has been overtaken by an intellectual grasp of form; cultural stylistics giving way to burgeoning technology. At the Bauhaus in the 1920s we had considered magnetic force and remote electrical control for invisible power sources. The first projects looking towards the dynamic-constructive system of forces can only be experimental, demonstrating devices for the testing of the relations between man, material, power and space. Next comes the utilization of experimental results for the creation of freely moving (free from mechanical and technical movement) works of art.

Kinetics, Hayward Gallery, London, 1970. Designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes
Kinetics, Hayward Gallery, London, 1970. Designed by Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes

Related Items from the Archive

From my archive:

More articles

Rudolph de Harak designed over 50 record covers for Westminster Records as well as designing covers for Columbia, Oxford and Circle record labels. His bright, geometric graphics can easily be distinguished and recognised.
I first came across Kens work in the Unit Edition’s superb monograph, Structure and Substance, published in 2012. Although I had owned a few of the British industrial design magazines, Design, for a few years before, in which Ken had designed numerous covers for.