Len Lye Exhibition and Book

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Wednesday 07 October 2009.

Len Lye Exhibition and Book image

This week is your last chance to get down to ACMI to see the Len Lye exhibition. If you are in Melbourne, do not miss it! It's a free show, and possibly the only chance you'll get this life time to see and hear Lye's kinetic sculptures in person.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to grab one of the last copies of the hardcover Len Lye book which accompanies the show. Only 400 were made, and less than a hundred remained last week.

However, if you miss out on the hardcover version, the same book (minus the special ACMI intro) will be printed again in paperback by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand, who house the Len Lye Foundation Collection and Archives.

This wonderful book combines beautiful, full-colour, high resolution images with texts by several art historians. Lye’s contribution to film practice, his difficult placement as a surrealist in modern art history, his contribution to photography through photogram portraits, his use of colour in a Chromophobic art world, and the importance of his kinetic sculptures are all addressed by international specialists familiar with his work: curators Tyler Cann and Alessio Cavallaro, filmmaker Roger Horrocks (author of Lye’s biography), Wystan Curnow, Guy Brett, Evan Webb and Tessa Laird.

Apart from the high quality, easily read and astutely referenced texts, what you also get out of this book is the ability to take your time scrutinising Lye’s art work in detail. His lesser known drawings, paintings and photography accompany high-resolution stills of his films. Production materials and techniques are also covered.

Particularly interesting for me is the short lexicon at the back, which defines Lye-originating terms like ‘Old Brain’ (Lye’s term for a collective form of the unconscious contained within the genetic code and the evolutionarily older reaches of the brain governing the body), and ‘Body English’ (which is an archaic colloquial term referring to the movements people make when trying to influence an object, such as a ball, from afar. Lye used this term to describe the tension and awareness of the body created by this empathic response as it informed the making of his work, and viewer’s responses to it).

The book will make an excellent addition to Fine Art and Art History libraries, although a different, upcoming book-DVD combo which will be available through ACMI in the near future, might be a more favourable purchase for fans of Lye’s moving-image work in particular.

Len Lye can be ordered online for $59.95 AUD at through the ACMI Store.

Len Lye Book

Len Lye exhibition at ACMI


Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Len Lye
Edited by Tyler Cann and Wystan Curnow
Published: 2009
Publisher: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Foundation
184pp; colour hardback
ISBN 978 1 920805 27 2
AU$59.95 (inc. GST)