Sculptors in the 1960s and 1970s experimented with light and optical illusion, reflecting mid-century fascination with speed, the materials of technology, and structural systems. Artists and artist-engineers built on previous decades of experimentation by such figures as László Moholy-Nagy and György Kepes, demonstrating artist Willoughby Sharp’s call for “an art of greater energy” to “unite us with the real rhythms of our era.” Systems theorist Jack Burnham, writing in 1968, found in contemporary sculpture the desire to prepare humans for radically new futures, even while many works mesmerize with their seemingly magical properties.
KAM’s small but strong collection of light and kinetic sculpture produced in the United States reflects the museum’s history as a vital participant in the University of Illinois’s Festival of Contemporary Arts (1948–1974), a campus-wide presentation of lectures, performances, and exhibitions by avant-garde artists. Many of these works were purchased after the exhibitions while others were gifts made in recognition of the spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration fostered by the university.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.