What is kinetic art? Unlike with other artistic styles, kinetic art as a term has less to do with how a piece of art is made and more to do with how it is presented when finished and how it is experienced. In this post, we’ll provide a definition, break down the various types of kinetic art, and take a look at some noteworthy examples. Let’s get started with a definition.

What is Kinetic Art

Let’s define kinetic art

To understand the term “kinetic art,” it helps to first have an understanding of the word “kinetic” on its own, which means relating to or resulting from motion. If you are curious about other artistic styles, you can learn about them all in our art styles index.

KINETIC ART DEFINITION

What is Kinetic Art?

Kinetic art is any type of artwork that contains moving elements or requires movement in the viewer in order to fully perceive the intended effect. Kinetic art is not confined to any particular medium or other artistic style but is rather a property that can accompany artwork of all types if motion is involved or required to experience. It is often compared to op art. The two styles are similar yet distinctive. While op may be static but give the illusion of motion, this type of art contains an element of motion.

Kinetic Art Characteristics:

  • Movement of the viewer or the art itself
  • Pairs with other artistic styles/labels
  • May be found in a variety of mediums

Art & Movement

Types of kinetic art

Kinetic art can exist in a multitude of forms, and artists continue to devise new kinetic artwork that pushes boundaries.

Let’s look at a few of the different types.

Kinetic art often appears in sculpture form, though under the umbrella term of “sculptures,” there exists a great deal of further variety.

The video below delves into seven kinetic sculptures of widely varying styles. You will notice that some sculptures move, while others are static but require the viewer to move in order to receive the full effect of the artwork.

Art Insider showcases kinetic art

By incorporating movement in a piece, kinetic art also opens the door to the incorporation of time as an element in the art. This incorporation of time in the viewing experience is something that most other styles of art cannot achieve through their static nature.

The mobile is another popular type of moving art. These pieces are typically powered by wind/air but can also be motorized. Mobiles can range from grade-school simple to extremely complex.

The following video provides a tutorial in mobile making.

How to make your own mobile

Wind-up pieces are another common category within this type of art. These pieces require a manual or mechanical “winding” process in order to start the motion, which can then be sustained for a particular duration.

Wired digs into the creation of wind-up art

One particularly fun type of kinetic art is the interactive variety. Much diversity can be found in this type, ranging from handheld objects to large-scale moveable pieces.

Large scale interactive art

Next, we’ll look at some more specific examples and we’ll highlight a couple of notable artists working in kinetics.

Kinetic Art Forms

Examples of kinetic art

Now that we have an understanding of this "art in motion" and its various types, let’s take the time to appreciate a few artists creating kinetic pieces.

This artist uses liquid metal and electromagnets to create alien-looking kinetic art pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in the best sci-fi films.

Wired showcases artist Eric Mesplé

Ivan Black is an artist who specializes in interactive sculptures. Some are handheld while others can fill an entire room.

Ivan Black’s kinetic art

Daniel Rozin creates a number of mechanical mirrors that “reflect” the viewer in a variety of creative ways. Some pieces use cameras while others utilize motion sensors to create the effect.

Wired showcases Daniel Rozin’s work

This 12,000 square foot kinetic installation was located right outside of Union Station. In the video below, the creator sheds light on the creation and ideation behind the piece.

Patrick Shearn discusses Reflecting Motion

Kinetic art offers some of the most mind-boggling and mesmerizing pieces of work that artists can conceive, and the envelope continues to be pushed by creative individuals.

UP NEXT

What is Photorealism

Congratulations, you now have a thorough understanding of kinetic art. But, there are tons of other art styles and disciplines to learn about and study. One such style with a rich history is photorealism. Learn about photorealism techniques, how and why the style was first developed, and see examples from the most prominent photorealists.

Up Next: Photorealism →
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  • Sam Kench is an internationally-awarded screenwriter, independent filmmaker, and film critic. Lover of foreign films; hater of American remakes.

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