Len Lye Pilgrimage


I flew to New Plymouth today to finally see, after a lifetime, the Len Lye Center and Museum. Artist/Animators don’t get much respect in the states, but here in New Zealand they have honored him with this huge amazing museum to house his archives, works, and created a research library for scholars to study his career. 

LenLyeWindWandLye was captivated with motion.  He worked as much with sculpture as animation.  This is Wind Wand, which is installed just down the street from the museum on the shore.  It is 48 meters high (you can do the math) and is a flexible pole that vibrates, bends, and whirls in the strong New Zealand winds.  It has a red light on the top so you can watch it swoop in the night. Its about the tallest thing in New Plymouth.



The logo of the museum is a bunch of squiggles. The museum designers did long exposures of the Wind Wand at night and developed a series of glyphs. It is a motif that is used everywhere. Here is the main door. I got a tee shirt with squiggles.


I spent the afternoon and ended up buying $300 of books and DVDs on him.  I would like to do a post here on his work, but most likely that “lecture” will be a part of a History of Animation class.

But I will post one image for Melissa.  Lye did a sitting with Georgia O’Keefe and took her portrait.  He asked her to bring one of her antlers.  This is a photogram.  He lays things on the paper – the antler – and works to align the sun or light so her profile shadow is cast on the paper. Its about 10x 12″. Very personal.


OK. one more.  This is one gallery of his sculptures.  They move like reeds in the wind. Their moving shadows are all over the walls. And they crack into each other. They make a tremendous noise of clacking and rustling. Lye considered sound as a way to explore movement as well as painting, kinetic sculptures, and film. Kids were in there having a blast.  Wonderful.  I took lots of videos. Still photos do nothing for Len Lye.  He was all about movement.


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