Frederick Kiesler (1890–1965) was a polarizing figure that stirred conventional thought and caused consternation with his outlandish ideas of curved walls and biomorphic furniture featured in his 1942 interior design for Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of This Century” gallery. Kiesler arrived in New York in 1926 from his homeland of Ukraine, bringing with him avant-garde ideas learned as the youngest member of de Stijl. Kiesler was a multi-disciplined artist that believed “form does not follow function. Function follows vision. Vision follows reality.” Called “the greatest non-building architect of our time,” Kiesler’s unbuilt visions of a home that connected to its inhabitants through solar energy, sensory lighting and large screens splashed with art seem prescient of today’s interactive and electronic home innovations. Deemed a charlatan by some and a visionary by others, Kiesler’s evocative ideas continue to be thought-provoking.
“My role as an artist is to discipline the chaos regarding information…” Abraham Palatnik
Brazilian kinetic pioneer, Abraham Palatnik (b. 1928) originally studied mechanics and physics with an emphasis on internal combustion engines at Tel Aviv’s Escola Técnica Montefiori, perhaps with the original intentions of working at his family’s furniture and porcelain businesses. Palatnik, having always been a talented artist, also honed his skills in painting and sketching under the tutelage of local Israeli artists, including the painter, Aharon Avni.
By 1948, having developed great skills in fine art painting, Palatnik returned to his homeland of Brazil, not to begin a career at his family business, but to begin his journey as an artist. After his return to Brazil, Palatnik accepted an invitation to visit Dr. Nise de Silveira’s groundbreaking occupational therapy classroom for schizophrenic patients at the Pedro II Psychiatric Hospital. Being amazed at the abilities of the doctor’s artistically untrained patients, Palatnik soon understood that artistic abilities were sometimes intrinsic capabilities and completely subconscious.
Upon this revelation, Palatnik abandoned his fine arts focus and began experimentation with light and movement. Over the next two years and using his training in mechanics, Palatnik created Aparelhos Cinecromáticos, a series of paintings that used moving light as paint. Aparelhos Cinecromáticos made its debut at the 1st São Paulo Biennial in 1951; however, that which took two years to create was not well-received. Relegated to a side room, it was excluded from the catalog due to the inability of the judges to categorize his work. However, a visiting international jury “considered it to be an important manifestation of modern art.” His experimentation went on to garner critical success and was called “the true art of the future.”
Palatnik went on to create more moving sculptures with his Objetos Cinéticos series, which comprised metal rods, wire and brightly colored wooden discs that were moved about by motors and electromagnets.
In 1954, along with his brother, Aminadav, they opened the Arte Viva, a modern furniture factory that remained open into the next decade. But perhaps Palatnik’s most well-known works are his series of lucite animals created by the duo’s art object company, Silon. Palatnik, now 90, continues to create and exhibit throughout the world.