Francisco Sobrino was born in Guadalajara, Spain, in 1932. He studied at the Escuela de Arte y Oficios in Madrid from 1946 to 1949, then moved to Argentina, where he attended the National School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires until 1957. In 1959 he settled in Paris, taking an interest in visual research and deepening studies on the structure and dynamics of forms, perception and colors. The works of this period are mainly black and white, characterized by systematic progressions of forms that generate optical effects. In 1960, together with Julio Le Parc, François Morellet and others, he founded the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (GRAV) which, active in Paris until 1968, summarizes the concept of the social function of art, conceived as a product no longer individual but collective. Since 1961 Sobrino has focused its research on three-dimensional constructions, using modular elements in transparent plexiglas, both monochrome and polychrome, whose regular structures, due to the overlapping of the parts, seem to change depending on the observer's point of view. In 1964 he exhibited at the Kassel Documenta, and the following year at the exhibition "The Responsive Eye" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In this period he created for Sarcelles, France, a structure of considerable size, in stainless steel, which represents the first of his many urban interventions and carries out a research on light, focusing on the issues of reflection, absorption, transparency and optical games provoked by shadows. In the second half of the 1960s he created kinetic objects that the viewer manipulated and, despite the dissolution of the GRAV group in 1968, he continued his research on three-dimensional structures. Since 1971 he has received comissions from the cities of Grenoble, Madrid and Paris for the creation of sculptures to be installed in public places. In 1976 the artist studied how to incorporate solar energy into his work, arriving in 1981 to create a self-energy sculpture. Sober ,whose works are present in important museum institutions, such as the Tate Gallery in London and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, died in Paris in 2014.
Tags: Francisco Sobrino - Sobrino - GRAV - The responsive eye
Programmed or Kinetic Art is an international art movement that has left an indelible mark on 20th-century art. Umberto Eco uses the term "Programmed Art" to present the historic exhibition at the Olivetti in Milan in 1962, organized by Bruno Munari. The great critic Giulio Carlo Argan calls it "arte gestaltica", while Lea Vergine will definitively establish its importance in Italy by describing it as the Last Vanguard, in the eponymous retrospective at the Royal Palace in Milan in 1984. The Programmed or Kinetic Art but also optical art have a common genesis: they arise from the innovative study, by artists, of the mechanisms of vision, optical and bright phenomena, in line with scientific advances from the post-war period onwards. All over the world, both informal and abstraction in painting no longer satisfy the search for young artists. Looking at Marcel Duchamp, Futurism - or more recent experiences such as the research of Bruno Munari,who already in the 1930s made "Useless Machines", and published the Manifesto of mcchinism in 1952 - we want to be able to create works that really involve the viewer, visually but also psychologically, and definitively overcome the concept of art as representation and expression: finally art becomes experience, and then it will be even environment. No in secondary importance, it is also the push of new artists to work in groups, so aggregations of artists are born who try to overcome the individualism of the figure of the artist: in Italy the first will be the MAC – Concreta Art Movement (formed around Munari himself) and later Group T in Milan and Group N in Padua. Important for Italian artists will be the experience of Azimuth, gallery and magazine animated by Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Although they are not expressly part of the movement, the innovative, monochrome, anti-figurative works of the two artists – along with those of their neighbours such as Agostino Bonalumi and Dadamaino, will be very important to pave the way for the experimentation of the Programmed Art. The Kinetic or Programmed Art movement is established thanks to contemporary ferments all over the world: Group T in Milan, Group N in Padua, GRAV in Paris, Group Zero in Dusseldorf. In America the trend is called Optical Art or Op-Art (as opposed to Pop-art, which dominated the scene in the 1960s). In Zagreb the movement finds a supporter in the critic Marko Mestrovic, who organizes the international events "Nova Tendencije"(New Tendency),in which all young Italian artists participate. Not only Enzo Mari, Manzoni, Bonalumi and Castellani, but also Getulio Alviani will be among the most active Italians in "Nova Tendencije", which will also become an international movement. Alviani'sworks, using the treated aluminum sheet, look for continuous visual tensions between reflection, visual ambiguity, apparent movement, light and vibration, using as a "motor" the visual interaction of the metal with the viewer's gaze. Marina Apollonio also joined the movement in 1965, encouraged by the encounter with Alviani, and as the latter uses modern industrial materials, to create structured works that transform into dynamic surfaces (metallic reliefs to alternating chromatic sequences) or that seek the apparent movement with optical geometric effects (Circular Dynamics). In Milan, the Arte Programmata is well represented by Group T, founded by Davide Boriani and Gabriele De Vecchi, to which Gianni Colombo, Giovanni Anceschi and finally Grazia Varisco are added. The group's first exhibition , Miriorama 1 , was in 1960 at the Pater Gallery (Gallery where Paolo Scheggi and Vanna Nicolotti will also exhibit at that time, with their three-dimensional canvases of several overlapping floors). Group T presents works in motion, consisting of mechanisms that animate them, without any representative intent. Colombo uses motors to move its surfaces; in those of Anceschi is the colored liquid that flows in tubes that can be moved by the hands of the viewer; while Boriani's magnetic surfaces use magnets and iron dust to get the work moving. Grazia Varisco creates works moved by mechanical motors and internal luminescence (variable light schemes) and structures in mobile industrial materials animated by multifaceted glass that breaks down its shapes. From the idea of work in motion through visual effects we then move to works that actually move on their own, or sometimes - in open break with the past - the viewer is asked to operate them directly with their own hands. Frequent exchanges and co-operations in exhibitions are with the N Group of Padua, formed shortly after Group T, by young people from architectural and industrial design studios: Alberto Biasi,Ennio Chiggio, Toni Costa, Edoardo Landi, Manfredo Massironi. They too embrace the new concept of art and are particularly active in popularizing it (for example, bringing to Padua the exhibition "The new artistic conception", by the Azimuth Gallery, in 1960), and accentuate the importance of the conceptual approach: the exhibition "No one is invited to take part" is a striking example. From Group N, the personality of Alberto Biasi,the group's animator, emerges that addresses in his works the themes of kineticism and visual perception, among the first works the "Trame", in which he studies the interference of the movement of the gaze on layered surfaces, and the "Optical-dynamic reliefs", lamelular structures with contrasting chromaticisms that "activate" thanks to the interaction with the viewer, who moves makes active use of a work in consequent optical movement. Edoardo Landi instead seeks the involvement of the viewer with the optical stimulation given by geometric and elementary forms, excellent examples of Optical compositions for a research that will continue even in the 70s. The Italian painting is complemented by figures who also operate in other cities, such as Franco Costalonga who conducts an in-depth research on optical effects in the work, as in chromokinetic objects in which he will experiment with countless combinations with the use of spherical mirrors. Costalonga participated in the founding of the "Dialettica delle tendenze" and "Verifica 8+1" groups with other Venetian artists in line with the international trend of Programmed Art in the 1960s. The success for the Programmed Art is evidenced by the exhibition of the same name in 1962 at the Olivetti store in Milan, then repeated at the company's headquarters in New York and at the 4th Biennale of San Marino (titled Beyond the Informal) in 1963, and will be definitively sanctioned with the incredible success of the exhibition The Responsive Eye,organized in 1965 by the MoMa in New York (180,000 visitors), in which almost all Italian exponents were exhibited, from Enrico CasteIlani to Getulio Alviani,from Group T to Group N, along with the greatest international artists from Josef Albers to Victor Vasarely.
Tags: Programmed Art - Kinetic Art - Optical Art - Agostino Bonalumi - Getulio Alviani - Manfredo Massironi - Alberto Biasi - Franco Costalonga - Vanna Nicolotti - Kinetism - Chromokine Object - Victor Vasarely - The Responsive Eye - Concrete Art Movement - Grav - Group Zero - Bruno Munari