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Len Lye, The Body Electric

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Who? Len Lye. What? The first retrospective exhibition in the UK of the New Zealand-born artist’s experimental films, kinetic sculptures, paintings and drawings. Why? With a reputation as being one of the most avant-garde filmmakers of his time, from the 1930s through to the late-50s, Len Lye created incredibly vibrant, low-tech animations. With his distinctive style and technique of “direct” filmmaking, Lye painted, scratched and stenciled directly onto...

Who? Len Lye.

What? The first retrospective exhibition in the UK of the New Zealand-born artist’s experimental films, kinetic sculptures, paintings and drawings.

Why? With a reputation as being one of the most avant-garde filmmakers of his time, from the 1930s through to the late-50s, Len Lye created incredibly vibrant, low-tech animations. With his distinctive style and technique of “direct” filmmaking, Lye painted, scratched and stenciled directly onto celluloid film to the most beguiling effect. Other notable works on show include Lye’s motion sculptures or ‘tangibles’ that further reinforce his creative, experimental and free-spirited approach. Relatively unknown and uncelebrated in comparison to his peers – who include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Cedric Morris and Christopher Wood – this exhibition pays tribute to the artist whose 1958 film Free Radicals was labeled as “an almost unbelievably immense masterpiece” by prominent filmmaker Stan Brakhage.

Where? Len Lye, The Body Electric runs 24 November 2010 until 13 February 2011 at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Text by Lucia Davies

Lucia Davies is Creative Digital Manager at MAD Agency London and a freelance writer who has contributed to titles including AnOther Magazine, Dazed & Confused, The Independent and Wonderland.

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