26 October 2011 – 29 January 2012
Born in Detroit in 1926, Breer is one of the most ground-breaking andcelebrated animators in history. This will be his most comprehensive exhibition to date, showing works from1950 to the present day. The son of an amateur 3D home-movie maker and chief engineer at the Chrysler Corporation, Breer initially studied engineering at Stanford, before switching to painting. Early enthusiasms were a 1935 BMW open cockpit racing car and stunt flying lessons in a bi-plane. His first real passion, however, was the reductive purity of Piet Mondrian’s grid-based abstract paintings.
Fourteen canvases from the 1950s, including Composition with Three Lines (1950), Time Out (1953) and Three Stages Elevators (1955) are included in the exhibition in the Museum Tinguely. Many have not been exhibited for several decades.
Developing the implied movement of his paintings Breer also started experimenting with animation, first with flip books and then with film. In his first film, Form Phases (1952) the designs of his paintings were set into motion, morphing from one thing into another and shifting in colour and cinematic space. Form Phases IV (1954), a tour de force of movement and instability sees forms, colours, lines and actions burst, complement and contradict each other across every square inch of screen.
As his career progressed, Breer became ever-concerned with the interplay between abstraction and representation. Fuji (1974) jumps from filmed footage of Breer’s wife by a train window to a rotoscoped sequence of a ticket collector and countless drawn depictions of Mount Fuji, all of which slip back and forth into and out of abstraction. In Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons (1980) the functional form of the knife and its red colour separate and dance around each other before reuniting. The exhibition includes these and other pioneering works from 1952 into the 1990s. Another important body of Breer’s work, the motion sculptures or ‘floats’, begun in the 1960s. These simple, almost minimalist forms, move at speed that is almost imperceptible before changing direction upon a collision. Recreating the motion and flux of his films in three dimensions, works such as Zig (1965), Column (1967) and Sponge (2000) surround the viewer, allowing form and change to be experienced in real time and space.
Exhibition mounted in collaboration with the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (UK)