Le Mouvement, held in 1955 at the Galerie Denise René in Paris, stands as a significant event in the history and development of kinetic art. This influential collective exhibition featured renowned artists like Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Jesús Rafael Soto, Jean Tinguely, Roger Bordier, Pontus Hultén, and Victor Vasarely.
Focusing on the theme of movement, Le Mouvement aimed to explore the advancement of kinetic arts through diverse artistic approaches. The artworks, interconnected by their exploration of spatiotemporal movement, directly engaged the audience. Some responded to the viewers’ own movements, while others offered interactive experiences. Notably, certain pieces were even motorized, introducing a truly innovative dimension to the art world.
The Impact: From Exhibition to Printed Legacy
The 1955 event gave rise to a remarkable book published in 1975, coinciding with a subsequent exhibition organized by Denise René in New York. This book, titled “The Mouvement Paris 1955,” collected testimonies from participating artists and art critics. It also included Victor Vasarely’s “Manifeste jaune,” where he contemplated the future of art—a future where artworks could be replicated, relinquishing their exclusivity, and opening up the opportunity for the general public, not just the elite, to possess valuable pieces.
A Treasure Trove of Artistic Significance
“The Mouvement Paris 1955” pamphlet compiles an array of details and writings, offering valuable insights into the event that marked the dawning of a new artistic era.
Through these pages, a prominent theme emerges—a quest to surpass traditional art, to transcend the classical notion of paintings on easels and canvases. Instead, the artists embraced an open-mindedness toward abstract forms, three-dimensionality, and movement as sources of novelty and innovation. Their goal was to manifest these concepts through tangible artworks, capturing the attention and experience of the audience.
Unveiling Optical Marvels: The Birth of Op Art
Le Mouvement played a crucial role in establishing Kinetic Art as a recognized movement. Two participants, Victor Vasarely and Pontus Hultén, created the renowned “Manifeste jeune” or yellow manifesto. This groundbreaking document outlined the idea of plastic works designed to undergo transformations based on the observer’s movement—a pivotal precursor to the Optical Art movement that would emerge in the 1960s.
Op Art, characterized by its abstract nature and the desire to create visually deceptive and dynamic illusions, used precise combinations of subjects and colors to achieve the desired effects. Even today, these captivating creations continue to evoke fascination and garner interest, representing a movement that has endured through the years.
Le Mouvement: the first hint of Op Art
As mentioned earlier, Kinetic Art was consecrated as a movement through the exhibition Le Mouvement. Two participants, Victor Vasarely and Pontus Hultén, created the well-known “Manifeste jeune” or yellow manifesto, which outlined for the first time the idea of a plastic work conceived to offer transformations connected to the observer’s movement. This became the initial hint of what later developed in the 1960s as Optical Art, a movement of abstract art characterized by the desire to create optical illusions typically in motion through the juxtaposition of specific subjects and colors. This was made possible by a careful examination of two-dimensional illusions. Creations of this kind still fascinate and interest audiences today, symbolizing a movement that has continued to exist.