Feathers, nails, revolving discs, fire, light boxes, tiny motors and other ingenious mechanisms and devices have been harnessed by the artists in this exhibition of over 60 works opening on 24 February at Christie's
new gallery space in Mayfair. The first exhibition of its kind to be held in London since 1970, Turn Me On charts the development of Kinetic Art - art that incorporates motion - between Europe and Latin America. The title of the show, Turn Me On, is a reference to the motors used to make many of the pieces move, and visitors will be able to see these works in motion.
Focusing on motorised kinetic works created from 1950 to the early 1970s, this exhibition presents works that reflect the new experimental artistic tendencies and visual language explored in the post-war period. By engaging with a wealth of new materials - such as plexiglas, plastic, foil and nylon - artists from Europe and Latin America redefined arts traditional parameters. With groups such as the Groupe de Recherche dArt Visuel founded in 1960 a collaboration between like-minded artists from all over Europe and Latin America these artists established a new global artistic language that expanded the idea of art beyond the two-dimensional picture plane, and has become understood as part of the art historical lexicon. The range of kinetic art is astounding and this exhibition includes Pol Burys early works (which at first appear to be static but ar in fact brimming with movement), Marina Apollonios Dinamica Circolare 9B, 1969 (which uses precise lines and colour variation to give a flat, two-dimensional object the appearance of depth) and Gregorio Vardanega, with his luminous boxes (which use lights and colour filters to project patterns onto plexiglas). The show also includes pieces by Otto Piene, Bernard Aubertin, Gerhard von Graevenitz, Günther Uecker and Jean Tinguely. With artists from Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, alongside those from Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, there is a surprising and well-documented cross-over of influences, as many Latin Americans made the journey to the Continent in the 1950s.
Within recent years there has been a renewed interest in this period and the artists who defined it, with a major exhibition at the ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany, entitled Light Art from Artificial Light in 2006, or the more recent show at the Grand Palais Paris Dynamo: A Century of Light and Motion in Art, 1913-2013 in 2013.
Darren Leak and Jacob Uecker, from Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Department, commented: "This group of works allows us to re-assess the contribution these artists have made as their experimentation with technology and materials produced works that are at the root of much contemporary art seen today. Their collaborations and exchanges more than 40 years ago seem startlingly relevant to the current international art scene".
The exhibition is organised by Christie's Private Sales department and follows on from the success of When Britain Went Pop, the first exhibition held in the new Christies Mayfair gallery space in 2013. An illustrated catalogue with artists biographies accompanies the exhibition, and includes an essay on Kinetic Art by Frank Popper, one of the most eminent art historians in the field, first published in 1970 at the time of the exhibition Kinetics at the Hayward Gallery.