Exhibition explores Len Lye's early years

18:31, Nov 26 2012

The debate about Len Lye continues in New Plymouth around the proposed Len Lye Centre.

A marvellous chance now exists for people to gather more information on this artist, see some of his work and make up their minds.

One of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery's summer exhibitions - Len Lye: The New Yorker - explores his early years in New York - between his arrival in 1944 and the emergence of his kinetic sculpture, or "tangibles", in the early 1960s.

The exhibition opens on Saturday and continues until Sunday, January 27.

During his career, the New Zealand-born Lye (1901-1980) lived and worked on both sides of the Atlantic, producing some of cinema's pioneering experimental films before emerging as a leading figure of the kinetic-sculpture movement.

After a successful career as a film-maker in London, Lye at age 45 moved to New York, eventually establishing a new career as a kinetic sculptor.


Curator Paul Brobbel says the exhibition takes a look into the Len Lye Foundation collection and archives to focus on Lye's activity in this important but often overlooked period.

Between the familiar poles of Lye's film-making and sculpture, the exhibition will consider many other aspects of the artist's work, including rarely seen paintings, drawings, photograms, writings and personal objects, he says.

"These years were a transitional phase for Lye, reaffirming his status as a pioneer of experimental cinema while also marking his emergence as a unique and inspired figure of the kinetic art movement," Brobbel says.

Lye's early, tentative steps as a kinetic sculptor will be explored through several works representative of Tangible Motion Sculpture, Lye's 1961 kinetic performance at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Shape of things to come

The Govett-Brewster installation team is also hard at work putting together another summer exhibition, Singular Companions: Sculpture from the Collection, also opening on Saturday.

The Govett-Brewster Art and Design Shop is still open during this time and visitors are welcome to choose films to watch at the gallery's film archive.

On Saturday from 2pm to 3.30pm, Govett-Brewster director Rhana Devenport hosts a talk at the gallery about sculpture in New Zealand with artists Christine Hellyar, Mary-Louise Browne and John Ward-Knox.

On Sunday from 11am, you can join artist Max Gimblett, writer Wystan Curnow and assistant curator Paul Brobbel for a conversation on the life and times of Len Lye in New York.

Taranaki Daily News