Dates: 1957-1970

Origin: International

Key Artists: Jean Tinguely

The main purpose of this form of art is to create movement, or the illusion of movement. The term ‘kinetic’ was first used in relation to fine art by the Constructivist artists Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner in their Realistic Manifesto of 1920. It was not until the 1950s, however, that it became established as a recognized addition to critical classification, at a time when artists like Bruno Munari (1907– ), Pol Bury (1922– ), and Jean Tinguely were constructing objects primarily designed to express movement.

The forms taken by kinetic art are, unsurprisingly, very diverse, given that the nature of the art is non-material. They include the optical illusions imparted by the paintings of Vasarely and Bridget Riley, the fluorescent strip-lighting in works by Dan Flavin (1933–96), and mobiles by Alexander Calder. Conceptual and formal precedents for these works can be found in a similarly wide range of art, from the presupposition of movement in a Cubist painting, to the inoperative mechanization of a Duchamp ‘ready-made’.

Parfitt, Oliver. “kinetic art.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <;

Jean Tinguely


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