15 Dec 2015
The summer Len Lye exhibition opening at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre explores the natural rhythms and imagery that inspired him.
Looking beyond the stainless steel sheen of his kinetic sculpture and the technical wizardry of his filmmaking, Len Lye: Flora and Fauna takes visitors on a journey through the natural world at the heart of Lye’s practice – the blueprint for his sensual and rhythmic art.
Shown from 18 December to 3 April, Len Lye: Flora and Fauna, is curated by Len Lye Curator Paul Brobbel and Assistant Len Lye Curator Sarah Wall.
“From his wild, coastal lighthouse upbringing at Cape Campbell to the ‘old brain’ energy of his masterpiece film Particles in Space, Len Lye: Flora and Fauna is a reminder that Lye’s unique world wasn’t simply a technical vision of the future, but rooted in the sensual and biological past,” says Paul Brobbel.
The exhibition includes rarely seen paintings, photogram, batik, films preserved and made available by Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, and the brand-new kinetic sculpture Albatross reconstructed in time for the summer by the Len Lye Foundation.
Len Lye: Flora and Fauna also features the return of the audience favourite Fire Bush, one of Lye’s most vigorous sculptures. A relative of the well known Fountain kinetic sculpture, Fire Bush makes a summer appearance alongside the Len Lye: Four Fountains exhibition in the Large Works gallery.
Also at the combined art museum is the first large-scale exhibition of artwork by Sister Corita Kent shown in New Zealand and Australia.
Through colourful banners and posters Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986) spread messages of joy, faith, love, the power of God, and protested against the political crises of her day.
Corita was a Catholic nun, artist and teacher at the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles. Heading the art department there she harnessed the energy of her students to help her produce some of the most vibrant and inventive print work of the day, using silk screen technique.
This exhibition Sister Corita’s Summer of Love is supported by a selection of works from the Govett-Brewster Collection Colin McCahon, plus loans from the Auckland Art Gallery Collection by Ed Ruscha and Marco Fusinator. The Govett-Brester also presents a pocket exhibition of graphic works by the Wellington Media Collective.
Almost 100 screen-prints by Sister Corita will be shown in the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery from 18 December to 3 April. A reconfigured exhibition then tours to City Gallery Wellington, curated by Robert Leonard, from 23 July to 6 November 2016.
Image caption: Len Lye with Flower Petals, c. 1968. Colour photograph
NOTES TO EDITORS
For any further enquiries please contact Kelly Loney:
M: +275 450 226
About Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in the coastal city of New Plymouth, Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific Rim. The Govett-Brewster is also home to the collection and archive of the seminal modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901–1980).
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded with a gift to the city of New Plymouth, from one of its greatest ‘Friends’ Monica Brewster (née Govett). A globetrotter before the age of air travel, Monica Brewster envisaged an art museum for her hometown that would be an international beacon for the art and ideas of the current day – the sort she had become familiar with on her global travels.
The Govett-Brewster continues in the legacy of Monica Brewster by taking on and presenting the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art in the global arts landscape.
The greatly expanded museum re-launched on 25 July 2015 with the addition of the Len Lye Centre. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is the country’s first example of destination architecture linked to contemporary art.
This latest addition to the Govett-Brewster – the Len Lye Centre – is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.
In 1964 Len Lye said “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art”.
The Len Lye Centre building, adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is an example of innovative thinking in both engineering and architecture. The architects are Patterson Associates, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architectural firms.
The new Len Lye Centre features Lye’s work in kinetic sculpture, film, painting, drawing, photography, batik and writing, as well as related work by contemporary and historical artists.
It also houses a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema – a welcoming environment for audiences to experience Len Lye’s films, local and international cinema, arthouse and experimental films, and regular film festival programming.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery building in New Plymouth closed in April 2013 for earthquake strengthening, compliance, upgrades and construction of the Len Lye Centre.
About Len Lye
A visionary New Zealander, an inspirational artist, a pioneer of film; Len Lye is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand.
Len Lye was an experimental filmmaker, poet, painter, kinetic sculptor and creative visionary ahead of his time. Most of his works were so revolutionary that technology literally had to catch up to him – meaning much of Lye’s work was not realised in his own lifetime.
Lye’s iconic 45-metre kinetic sculpture Wind Wand sways gently on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. The Wind Wand that glows red at night, is the first large outdoor sculpture to be built posthumously from his plans and drawings.
In 1977 Lye returned to his homeland to oversee the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He called it the “swingiest art gallery of the antipodes”.
Shortly before his death in 1980, Lye and his supporters established the Len Lye Foundation, to which he gifted his entire collection. His collection was gifted on the condition that a suitable and permanent home be created in which his works could be fully realised.