Pol Bury

16 Balls, 16 Cubes in 8 Rows


In Tate Liverpool

Pol Bury 1922–2005
Original title
16 Boules, 16 cubes sur 8 rangées
Wood, nylon and motor
Object: 800 × 400 × 290 mm
Purchased 1967

Catalogue entry

Pol Bury born 1922

T00919 16 Boules, 16 Cubes sur 8 Rangées (16 Balls, 16 Cubes in 8 Rows) 1966

Inscribed on back top edge '16 BOULES, 16 CUBES SUR 7 RANGÉES. Pol Bury Sept 66.'
Motorised construction of stained wood and plywood, 31 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 7 7/8 (80 x 40 x 20)
Purchased from the artist through Kasmin Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) 1967
Exh: Pol Bury: Cinétisations, Galerie La Hune, Paris, October 1966 (no catalogue); Pol Bury, Kasmin Ltd., London, April-May 1967 (works not listed, repr.)
Lit: Pol Bury, La Boule et le Cube (Brussels 1967); Michael Compton, Optical and Kinetic Art (London 1967), n.p., repr. pl.32
Repr: Studio International, CLXXIII, 1967, p.269; Arts Review, XIX, 22 July 1967, p.266

The balls and cubes are arranged in eight rows which comprise all the six permutations of the two balls with two cubes, and two of the eight permutations of three of one kind with one of another. This logical regularity contrasts with the randomness and the jerky, wayward slowness of their movements. The title inscribed on the back gives the number of rows as seven, but the artist says that this must have been a mistake and can be corrected.

Bury, who first began to work with wooden balls and cubes in 1963, wrote a sort of essay or prose poem in January 1966 entitled 'The Ball and the Cube', from which the following is an extract:

'Placed in each other's presence, the cube and the ball are the white and the black, for whom one is blacker, the other whiter. The contraries which attract each other, the dissimilarities which complement each other.

'But the posterior can raise itself, the apple can roll if pushed by a facetious finger, and each event involves the intervention of the obscure forces of Weightiness, indisputable Gravity.

'Let us connect one to the other by a thread, thus thwarting this Gravity and giving it an air of lightness, of levity (but only an air).

'The ball caresses ... The caressed cube takes on a certain roundness (at any moment now, it might start purring) ... The ball, statelier than in the palm of the hand, enjoys the savour of the flat surfaces ...'
(Translation by Simon Watson Taylor published in Dore Ashton, Pol Bury, Paris 1970, p.113).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.88-9, reproduced p.88

You might like