Kinetic art, or kineticism, is an international movement that refers to art of both real and apparent motion created between 1920 and 1970. Although it was not recognized as a movement until the 1955 exhibition Le mouvement (Movement) at Galerie Denise René in Paris and the ensuing string of major
international exhibitions during the 1960s, Kinetic art claimed
Constructivism and Dada as its historical precedents. The artists of the new movement interpreted the optical machines and mechanical sculptures of Marcel Duchamp, Vladimir Tatlin, and László Moholy-Nagy as early abstractions of time and space that destabilized formal structures through mechanized motion. Alexander Calder’s mobiles, also included in the early Kinetic art exhibitions, alternatively transformed formal abstractions into sculptures that moved according to the random push of air currents.
Finding historical legitimacy in these early examples of mechanized motion, Kinetic art emerged during the 1950s as a diverse movement that experimented with both actual and virtual movement. Inherently static works of both two and three dimensions invited the spectator’s manipulation and movement to activate the object’s dynamic presence. Other artists intensified light and sound effects to dematerialize the object's structure and convert the static visual experience into a sensory experience of both time and space. Optical illusions in the work of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely, often labeled under the subsidiary style of Op art, similarly distorted the spectator’s perception into geometric abstractions of apparent movement and volume unmoored from the work’s flat tangible form. Artists during the 1950s and 1960s associated with Kinetic art include Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Hans Haacke, Robert Jacobsen, Heinz Mack, Kenneth Martin, David Medalla, Abraham Palatnik, George Rickey, Jesús Rafael Soto, Takis, and Jean Tinguely.