Museum Tinguely, 23 October 2019 - 26 January 2020
Len Lye (1901–1980), born in Christchurch, New Zealand, was one of the most important experimental film-makers of the 1930s to 1950s, and in his later years created a fascinating, multidisciplinary body of work, large parts of which have yet to be fully explored. Being self-taught, he soon developed a highly idiosyncratic approach to art.
After living in Wellington for a while, Lye spent 1923–26 in Sydney, where he studied the art of the indigenous peoples of Samoa, New Guinea and Africa, Aboriginal Australian and the Maori familiar to him from his native New Zealand, recording what he saw in sketchbooks. These not only juxtapose drawings of masks and ornaments from different cultures with works of the Russian Constructivists and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, but in one of the books in this visual compendium flank them with a transcription of Sigmund Freud’s essay Totem and Taboo (first published in German in 1913, and in Abraham Brill’s English translation in 1918), as well as texts by and about Gaudier-Brzeska (published in an anthology by Ezra Pound in 1916) and by Oskar Pfister (Expressionism in Art, published in English in 1922).