Gabo’s Kinetic Paintings

April 11th, 2011

Three paintings by Naum Gabo from his 1959 lectures, Of Divers Arts.

“All colors, even in their seemingly identical hues, have a different identity in our vision of them. One and the same color acts differently on different surfaces. Colors change with the change of their place in space or on a surface, and their identity also varies with the time at which they appear in the field of our vision. They change not only according to the neighboring color—a fact by now known to every schoolboy—but in relation to the frame of our vision and its axis, i.e., to right or left of the axis, and up or down from it” (p96).

Red Kinetic Painting, 1943 (p97). This painting is meant to be viewed from all four sides, rotating counter-clockwise. Click for larger version.

“Color affects the bounds of the shape in which it is enclosed and changes the form of surrounding space; it modulates distances, retards or accelerates the rhythm of our visual perception… Color is the flesh of our visual perception of the world, not its skin” (p98).

Yellow Painting, “Strontium”, 1945 (p95). This painting is meant to be viewed from all sides, rotating counter-clockwise. Click for larger version.

“Space in our vision is not the distance between far and near, not the above and below, not even the place which is there or here; it is penetrating, everywhere present in our conscious experience of vision… It is ever within our reach, and thus it carries an experience of palpability equal to any conveyed by the tactile sense… Space is not a part of the universal space surrounding the object; it is a material by itself, a structural part of the object—so much so that it has the faculty of conveying a volume as does any other rigid material” (p100).

And time “in the artist’s experience is not that static sequence of intervals measured by days and hours of past and future, it is not the mechanical phenomenon we measure by our clocks; neither it is that idea of contemporary science where it has become a relative term dissolved entirely in the idea of space-time so that both become one. Time to us is the faculty of experiencing the continuity of the present” (p100-101).

“My explanation of the function of [color and] space and time in the visual experiences of the artist may perhaps be clearer to you in the work to be seen in the following illustration…” (p102).

Blue Kinetic Painting, 1945-54 (p103). This painting is meant to be viewed in rotation. The panel is mounted on a motor making one revolution in two minutes. Click for an animation of this revolution.

3 Responses to “Gabo’s Kinetic Paintings”

  1. Christine Egger Says:

    Changes my perspective on paintings as static art. Thank you, Greg.

  2. » Yellow Tuesday: Party The Color Project Says:

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