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Len Lye Broché – 3 avril 2000
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
It lies with those who so vehemently oppose his presence in New Plymouth, where a "temple" to house his extraordinary works of art is about to open.
The opposers are a large proportion of the local populace, but are especially members of that small-town group of conservatives called "ratepayers".
They pay their rates to the council, and they seem terrified that some of this money, parted with so begrudgingly, might end up supporting something that to them smacks of upper middle class exclusivity.
The book is a masterpiece befitting Lye's undoubted genious. It traces his remarkable career, from its unlikely beginnings in rural New Zealand to the height of his renown in one of the art capitals of the world, New York.
It is meticulous, it is sourced, it is objective as it is possible to be when the subject is as subjective as art.
The sturdy burghers of New Plymouth - a town renowned for its small-mindedness - have every right to oppose, of course, but also an obligation to do so from an informed standpoint.
Horrocks presents that foundation with great skill.
The irony is that the new Len Lye art museum - which opens in July, 2015 - has not actually been built with ratepayer money. It has been funded by corporate donations, which in themselves represent an even stronger paradox.
Throughout his life, Lye eschewed corporations and they ignored him, because he consistently refused to kowtow to them and to compromise his artistic principles to please them.
New Plymouth's fundamentalist opposition to the Len Lye temple will soon become irrelevant. It seems likely that New Zealand's first art museum devoted to a single artist will draw much international acclaim and many visitors.
Then, the ratepayers might flock to buy Horrocks' book in a bid to understand what the fuss is about.
Then again, they might not. Len wouldn't have cared either way.
Lye was bormn in New Zealand in 1901. Early in life he was presented with a great abyss to cross, the death of his father. The childhood that followed was one of movement, insecurity and foster homes. These experiences, which so easily could hhave crushed a developing personality, worked to give Lye a tough, self-sufficient interior life. Inspired by nature, light annd movement, Lye taught himself how to draw and became interested in the processes of mmemory.
After leaving school with minimal qualifications Lye worked in a variety of jobs throughout New Zealand. These jobs included hop picking, labouring and advertising. In his spare time Lye continued his study of painting and drawing and became aware of the modernist movement in European art.
At the age of 22, feeling that he had exhauusted the possibilities of the New Zealand art scene, Lye moved to Sydney, Australia and immersed himself in the bohemian circles of that city. Continuing to pursue his personal study of art, Lye also discovered psychoanalysis and film animation.
In 1924 Lye returned to New Zealand then decided to undertake a first-hand study of tribal art. Lye traveled to the South Pacific Islands of Fiji, Rarotonga, Tonga and Samoa, where he stayed for several months. Following his sojourn in the South Pacific, Lye returned to Sydney where his increasing desire for knowledge fed his restless yearning for a direct connection with European modernism. In late 1926, Lye worked his way to England as a stoker on a steamship.
Once in London, Lye quickly established himself within the vanguard art movements of that city and, in 1927, drawing on his knowledge of Australian aboriginal and Polynesian art, commenced making images for his animated film TUSALAVA.
TUSALAVA, a 9 minute long, black and white film, depicts the transformation of simple life forms into complex forms that grow, evolve and then consume themselves. TUSALAVA established Lye's reputation as a film artiist.
Over the next few years Lye revelled in London's cosmopolitan artistic community, explored associative writing and drawing techniques, produced a series of original book covers for writers as diverse as Gertruude Stein and Robert Graves then, in 1931, published NO TROOUBLE, a book of his own letters.
In 1935 Lye made a colourful, semi-abstract film, A COLOUR BOX, on commission for the GPO Film Unit in London. Over the next few years Lye continued to produce a series of bright, energetiic, semi-abstract films.
In 1941 Lye was employed by Britain''s Realist Film Unit to produce wartime information films. On the basis of his work for Realist, Lye was later offered six months work for the March oof Time newsreel in New York.
Lye soon became enraptured with the liveliness and openness of New York and resolved to stay in the United States, eventually becoming an American citizen.
In 1953, Lye produced the astounding COLOR CRY, a 16mm abstract film featuring a searing soundtrack by Sonny Terry.
Lye's film of 1958, FREE RADICALS, won Second Prize at the International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium.
After years of living in poverty, the dire state of funding for experimental films and the widespread indifference to his work, Lye went on strike, refusing to make any more films. From that time on, Lye devoted his energies to creating kinetic sculptures and developing theories that would help him to understand the basic impetus for his work.
Through the 1960s, Lye's steel, kinetic sculptures were exhibited in art museums across Europe and the United States.
Today, most of Lye's films, paintings, scupltures and other works are housed at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand, where they arre exhibited annually.
Horrock's biography is a remarkablle achievemment. It is inspiring to see Lye's life and work laid out in this engaging book and learning how Lye persisted through enormous difficulties to produce a small body of great work in diverse media over a 50-year period. In the very best of his works, such as the film FREE RADICALS and the sculpture TRILOGY, Lye managed to transcend and surpass the formal limitations in the work of most of his peers and sucessors.
Bothe the book LEN LYE: A Biography and the artist Len LLye are well worth checking out by anyone interested in film, painting, drawing, sculpture and writing.
A more complete version of this review appears in ILLUSIONS Magazine, PO Box 6476, Marion Square, Wellinton, New Zealand.