Sculpture in Motion

What is kinetic art?

The term "kinetic art" was penned in 1920 in the Realist Manifesto, where artist Naum Gabo extolled the virtues of divorcing art from traditional conventions. It wasn't until the mid-1950s, however, that the kinetic art movement exploded, bringing fame to sculptors such as Jean Tingley, George Rickey and Alexander Calder, whose colorful mobile can be seen on the lawn of the High Museum of Art.

In the decades since, new materials and technologies became available, broadening the possiblities. The movement also evolved from the use of machinery and electricity to create movement, to art that now embraced and celebrated the use of natural, renewable resources to induce motion. The Garden's exhibition featured a piece by George Rickey, deceased, who helped pioneer the kinetic art movement, but the work of the new generation of kinetic art and contemporary artists was the actual focus.

Sculpture in Motion:
Art Choreographed by Nature

In 2008, the Atlanta Botanical Garden once again showcased fine contemporary art in an extraordinary garden setting. Sculpture in Motion, Art Choreographed by Nature was the most extensive survey of outdoor kinetic art thus far, and featured 32 medium and large scale outdoor kinetic sculptures.

Art That Moves You

Amid lavishly blooming flowers and trees a collection of extraordinary scullptures came to life at the Garden.

Each piece moved by various forces-- air currents, water, solar power, sound waves, magnetics, human energy-- and formed endless compositions that evoked powerful responses as unique as the artwork itself. Wind-powered kinetic art was mesmerizing, capturing and giving form to breezes that were also made visible in the leaves of nearby trees, yet using gleaming metals instead of foliage. Other forms of moving sculpture, such as liquid magnetics and multi-ton interactives that were able to be manipulated by a toddler, defied imagination and had to be seen to be believed.

The sculptures were produced by 16 artists, some of the most prominent kinetic sculptors working today, most of whom created new work specifically for this show.  The connection of the works of art to the environment was unparalleled: most were powered by natural forces, their large scale complemented the spectacular gardens in which they were displayed.

Artists selected for the exhibition worked in many different and often high-tech materials.  Tim Prentice and Jeffery Laudenslager worked with super-light metals like titanium, harnessing wind power to create moving geometric forms. American-born David Fried now working in Germany, utilized a proprietary system to capture sound waves and translate them into movement. Japanese artist Sachiko Kodama employed electromagnetics and magnetically-charged microfine particles suspended in oil to create completely original sculptural forms. Zac Coffin's interactive installation tested the limits of the laws of physics with seemingly impossible gravitational situations.     

Organized in collaboration with Guest Curator Brigitte Micmacker of Sculpturesite Gallery, San Francisco, Sculpture in Motion was the Garden's first group exhibition. An Exhibition Catalog is still in print and is available through the Garden Gift Shop.