05 Aug 2016

Emilio Cavallini and the resurgence of Op and Kinetic art by Gregory de la Haba

The Resurgence of Op and Kinetic Art

Since 2013, the art world has witnessed a deluge of Op and Kinetic art centered exhibitions by major international museums and galleries and the markets took notice: from 2000 to 2010 kinetic art prices at international auctions went up a whopping 128%. We asked Eva Zanardi, a New York based Art Advisor, blogger and Director of Communications at GR gallery on the Lower East Side, which specializes in Kinetic and Op art, to provide some context.

Gregory de la Haba: Why in your opinion are we witnessing an Op Art and Kinetic art resurgence?

Eva Zanardi: Op and Kinetic art can be both contemplative and instinctual, evoking potent reactions which can be as tranquil as raindrops slowly falling and dispersing in a body of water (such as in Italian artist Alberto Biasi’s “Gocce”) or as mesmerizing as a lightning strike (such as in British painter Bridget Riley’s “Blaze”). I personally find the fact that these two art movements are introspective and void of any political, religious or social commentary immensely refreshing.

First and foremost, Kinetic art and Op art are not the same: Kinetic art or kineticism (from the greek word “kinesis” meaning motion) is an international movement that refers to art of both real and apparent motion, created between 1920 and 1970. The term “kinetic art” was coined by artist Naum Gabo and his brother Antoine Pevsner in 1920 but popularized by the mobiles of artist Alexander Calder and the kinetic sculptures of George Rickey. Inspired by such iconoclastic movements such as Dada and Constructivism, Kinetic art, or, as some prefer, Dynamic Art, in the ’60s spawned a new movement, Op art, mostly interested in optical effects, the illusion of movement and the perception of the visual (among many others Bridget Riley, Getulio Alviani,Victor Vasarely, Julian Stanczak). Many of the Op and Kinetic artists were fascinated by mathematical puzzles, and scientific experiments in phenomena such as the parallax effect, in which objects appear to move in relation to things around them. They combined science and art but, at the same time, explored the philosophical depth and intellectual aspirations of Geometric Abstraction and its spiritual overtones. Works by artists such as Argentine painter Eduardo Mac Entyre and Omar Rayo(Colombia), among others, suggest a higher, meditative purpose.

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