Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Rods on Round Background

Pol Bury (Belgian, Haine-Saint-Pierre 1922–2005 Paris)
Wood and metal
36 x 91 7/16in. (91.4 x 232.2cm)
Sculpture, Variable Media
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Brody, 1981
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
As a young artist, born in Belgium and educated in France, Pol Bury met and was influenced by the Surrealist René Magritte. Bury was working as a painter at the time and began to participate in Surrealist group exhibitions. He abandoned painting in 1952, however, after encountering the work of sculptor Alexander Calder. Calder's mobiles, in particular, made a strong impression on Bury, who would go on to become one of the first practitioners of "kinetic" art in the 1960s. Bury emphasizes movement as an essential element of sculpture, stressing that his works are not complete until they are set into motion. His first kinetic pieces, from the 1950s, were weathervane-like sculptures that were activated by the viewer. In the later '60s, he began working in stainless and Cor-Ten steel, producing monumental balls that spun or rolled, columns that rotated, and planes that tilted, all operated by concealed electrical mechanisms. The movement that he assigned to these sculptures was often a slow, often imperceptible action that did not immediately register in the viewer's eye.

This work is a wall sculpture, consisting of a textured wooden circle with protruding bunches of grass- or hairlike tendrils that are powered by a hidden motor. As in Bury's other sculptures, their unexpected and irregular motion can have an unsettling effect on the beholder. This element of surprise and chance is a legacy of the Surrealist movement, which has never fully ceased to inform the artist's work. Bury has lived and worked in France and the United States and has received a number of large-scale public commissions for locations throughout the world, including projects for the Palais Royal in Paris and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. He has also created a number of fountains that incorporate water as an additional ingredient of movement in his sculpture.
Inscription: Signed and dated (on reverse): Pol Bury 1963
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Brody, New York (by 1966–81; their gift to MMA)

University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley. "Directions in Kinetic Sculpture," March 18–May 1, 1966, no. 9 (dated 1962, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Brody, New York).

Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Directions in Kinetic Sculpture," June 5–July 10, 1966, no. 9.

University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley. "Pol Bury," April 28–May 31, 1970, no. 3 (dated 1962, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Brody).

Minneapolis. Walker Art Center. "Pol Bury," August 2–September 10, 1970, no. 3.

Iowa City. University of Iowa Museum of Art. "Pol Bury," September 20–October 31, 1970, no. 3.

Arts Club of Chicago. "Pol Bury," November 24, 1970–January 2, 1971, no. 3.

Houston. Institute for the Arts, Rice University. "Pol Bury," January 25–March 7, 1971, no. 3.

New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Pol Bury," April 15–June 6, 1971, no. 3.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sculpture: New Acquisitions," April 6–September 5, 1982, no catalogue.

Rosemarie E. Pahlke. Pol Bury. Brussels, [1994], p. 144, no. 63–8, calls it "Bâtons sur un ronde en arrière–plan".

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