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Len Lye the book –due for launch 25 September 2009

Media Release
8 September 2009

Len Lye the book –due for launch 25 September 2009

Len Lye, a new book showcasing one of New Zealand’s most inspirational and influential artists, throws fresh light on the inventive vitality and incredible diversity of the work of Len Lye (1901-1980).

This fascinating look at one of the country’s most internationally acclaimed artists is easily the most comprehensive visual presentation of Lye’s art to date.

Over 1,000 new photographs were created and hundreds of them selected for this sumptuous publication by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Len Lye Foundation. It is co-edited by the Gallery’s Len Lye Curator Tyler Cann and the writer, critic and poet Wystan Curnow.

A seminal figure in the history of the moving image and kinetic sculpture, Lye was born in Christchurch in 1901 and travelled throughout the South Pacific, living for extended periods in Australia and Samoa. Working his passage to Britain on a steamship in 1926, and moving on to New York in 1944, Lye was an artist on the move in the modernist age.

“A poet, painter, experimental filmmaker, and sculptor, Lye crossed artistic boundaries as freely as he did geographic ones,” says Cann.

“In New Zealand Lye is best known for his kinetic sculpture, however his international reputation was built on his films. This book brings together many of the different facets of Lye’s energetic mind and pioneering career.”

His work has featured in over 50 major exhibitions worldwide, including Paris’ Pompidou Centre, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Modern.

The book coincides with the largest and most comprehensive Len Lye exhibition ever, currently showing in the heart of Melbourne at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and is attracting excellent reviews and large audiences. More than any previous exhibition, the Melbourne show offers a taste of what is promised by the dedicated Len Lye Centre planned for New Plymouth.

This book underlines the place in modern and contemporary art held by the man Scottish poet Alastair Reid declared, “the least boring person who ever lived”.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says Len Lye is a publication that for the first time reflects the visual dynamism and astonishing breadth of the artist’s practice and his unique influence on twentieth and twenty first century art.

“Len Lye’s work so deserves a powerful and visually compelling rich book but there simply wasn’t one. Len Lye the publication presents to audiences the enormous vitality and innovation that marks his work.

“Len Lye is aimed at wide readership and the refreshing cascades of new imagery alongside important commissioned content combine to offer a totally engaging book to visit and revisit.”

Woven between the images are new and approachable essays by Roger Horrocks, Guy Brett, Evan Webb and Tessa Laird, and by co-editors Tyler Cann and Wystan Curnow.

The riot of colour in the new book echoes Lye’s ebullient style. Lye is renowned for his ingenuity, particularly in painting and scratching directly onto film.

“Creative thinkers are increasingly aware of Lye’s groundbreaking work and this book will prove a lasting resource and influence for artists, filmmakers and designers,” Devenport says.

Published for the first time are photographs of recently reconstructed works including Moon Bead, Zebra, Convolution and Water Whirler plus other sculptural works soon to be restored or reconstructed. There are also reproductions of rarely-seen paintings, sketches and artist’s notes.

Len Lye is co-published by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Len Lye Foundation with support from the Govett-Brewster Foundation. It is available through bookstores nationwide. RRP NZ$75.


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