New exhibition and book cements Len Lye’s place in New Zealand contemporary art

News Featured news

The opening of the new Len Lye: Motion Compositions exhibition at NPDC’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre on 18 May coincides with the launch of a collection of writings about the famed artist.

The exhibition includes early studies of movement, kinetic sculptures including Sky Snakes, and experimental films, the first show from the Gallery’s recently appointed curator of Len Lye and Contemporary Art, Anna Briers.

Motion Compositions explores how Lye closely observed ways of movement and combined this with an intuitive sense of physics and the inherent nature of materials to create powerful and enduring art works across different media.

“Lye had an enduring interest in the connections between energy, motion, and sound. An effervescent and original thinker, he was captivated by the allure of movement,” Anna says.

“The works on display exemplify Lye’s interest in choreographing movement and the inseparability of moving image and sound.”

Alongside the opening of Motion Compositions, is the launch of, Stopped Short – writings on Len Lye, by art critic and longtime scholar of Lye’s work, Wystan Curnow.

The book features his writings between 1977 and 2017 and explores his discovery of Lye’s work in New York and its repatriation to the artist’s homeland, where the Len Lye Foundation was established, and a dedicated Len Lye Centre in Ngāmotu New Plymouth cemented his significance within Aotearoa New Zealand art history. 

“Through his writing and curating, Curnow has raised the global profile of New Zealand artists and local awareness of and interest in expatriate artists, creating a more porous, complex idea of New Zealand art,” says Bouncy Castle co-publisher and former Govett-Brewster Director John McCormack.

Author Wystan Curnow will be in conversation with Len Lye Foundation Deputy Chair and Sarjeant Gallery Director Andrew Clifford to launch the book on 18 May at 5pm.

The book will be distributed by Tāmaki Makaurau-based Rim Books and available from the Govett-Brewster Shop.

Stopped Short – writings on Len Lye is published by Bouncy Castle and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre, with support from the Len Lye Foundation, Pollen Contemporary Art Foundation, and Grant Kerr.

Len Lye: Motion Compositions
18 May - 17 November 2024, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre