Art that depends on motion for its effects

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  • Bruce Lacey, 'The Womaniser' 1966

    Bruce Lacey
    The Womaniser 1966
    Mixed media
    displayed: 1500 x 1650 x 730 mm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Knapping Fund 2001 Bruce Lacey

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  • Alexander Calder, 'Antennae with Red and Blue Dots' 1960

    Alexander Calder
    Antennae with Red and Blue Dots 1960
    Aluminium and steel wire
    object: 1111 x 1283 x 1283 mm
    Purchased 1962 ARS, NY and DACS, London 2002

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  • Naum Gabo, 'Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave)' 1919-20, replica 1985

    Naum Gabo
    Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) 1919-20, replica 1985
    Metal, painted wood and electrical mechanism
    object: 616 x 241 x 190 mm
    Presented by the artist through the American Federation of Arts 1966The Work of Naum Gabo Nina & Graham Williams/Tate, London 2011

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The word kinetic means relating to motion. Since the early twentieth century artists have been incorporating movement into art. This has been partly to explore the possibilities of movement, partly to introduce the element of time, partly to reflect the importance of the machine and technology in the modern world and partly to explore the nature of vision.

A pioneer of kinetic art was Naum Gabo with his motorised Standing Wave of 1919–20. Movement has either been produced mechanically by motors or by exploiting the natural movement of air in a space. Works of this latter kind are called mobiles and were pioneered by Alexander Calder from about 1930. 

Kinetic art became a major phenomenon of the late 1950s and the 1960s.