“Force Fields: Phases of the Kinetic”

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)

Kinetic art suffered the unhappy fate of a flash in the pan. Drawing crowds and saturating the art market for a brief moment in the mid-’60s (at least in Europe), it faded from sight as rapidly as it had burst on the scene. Behind the quick demise was the confusion with Op art in the mind of the public, fueled by exhibitions such as “The Responsive Eye” (MoMA 1965). Because kinetic art was (wrongly) perceived as an art based almost entirely on easy optical tricks, it would soon be trashed as utter kitsch, on a par with such risible by-products as the Courrèges dress and the lava lamp. The kiss of death was the awarding of the Grand Prize for painting at the 1966 Venice Biennale to Argentinean artist Julio Le Parc, followed two years later by Nicolas Schöffer winning the prize for sculpture: Through the official success of these two mediocre artists (though it should be said that Le Parc

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