Pol BURY (1922-2005), 21 tiges se reflétant dans une forme courbe - 1967
Brass, electric motor, 56 x 69 x 32 - titled and dated on the back
Pol Bury introduced the concept of time in sculpture. He was presented as a kinetic artist because his works incorporate movement, but this slow, sometimes barely perceptible movement allowed him to sow doubt in the minds of his viewers. If the spectator is to believe his own eyes, he must stand perfectly still, and attentive to movements that will undermine the superficial appearance of a work at rest.
Movement is not the fundamental message of a work that transmits no signs, and makes no grand gestures. The movement gives the sculpture an additional point of interest — the possibility to be several sculptures in succession, which may only be seen if we are prepared to grant them the time it takes.
— PIERRE DESCARGUES
Pol Bury's participation in the exhibition Le Mouvement at Galerie Denise René in 1955, made him one of the pioneers of the kinetic movement. The abstract moving reliefs he exhibited during this show, the so-called Plans mobiles, mark his presence at what is generally considered to be the birth of kinetic art.
In 1964, Bury was asked to represent Belgium at the Venice Biennale; but more importantly, in the same year, he held his first one-man show at the John Lefebre Gallery in New York. The American public discovered the work of a mature artist pursuing a highly individual expressive mode, in tune with the prevailing currents in contemporary art. The New York show was an immediate success: the Museum of Modern Art purchased two works, collectors were equally enthusiastic, and the press reception was ecstatic.
The show marked a turning point in Pol Bury’s career. Recognition also brought a degree of material comfort, which allowed him to begin working with new materials, on a bigger scale.
In 1967, Bury began experimenting with metal for his sculptures. It allowed for works on a bigger scale, but also for more curvaceous, free-flowing shapes. Additionally, the alternating polished and unpolished surfaces contribute an interesting play of light and reflections.
With their slow, sometimes hesitant movements, stopping and re-starting unpredictably, Bury’s works play with our perception of time. Movement, for Bury, is more than an extra dimension in which to explore the formal play of shapes and colors. Bury uses motion as an unsettling, but very effective means of artistic expression.