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  • KC Pruitt

Powerful Movement

How has an artwork incorporated movement in a way that was powerful for you? How? Why?

To bring this question down to one specific work of art is a difficult endeavor. My first thought was of the kinetic sculptures of, Alexander Calder, inventor of the Mobile and Stabile. His mother was a painter and both his father and grandfather were sculptors. However, I found I it is the history of this engineer, sculptor, toy maker and jewelry designer that fascinates me.

Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, which was his attempt to capture the entire sequence of the act of walking down a flight of stairs in one static work. This was similar to the stop action imagery that photographers and filmmakers of the day were experimenting with.

I can’t remember exactly when I first saw the painting. However, it was probably in the seventh grade. That is the first time I had a structured art class. At twelve year’s old my curiosity often brought out the World Book Encyclopedia. My parents had purchased a set for my studies. I was fascinated with this world of knowledge at my fingertips. My mother had a very large dictionary that I used to find words and meanings. Remember, this was long before personal computers and cell phones. I remember looking the painting up because it was a “nude” and I was twelve.

When I looked at the black and white photograph of the painting, and read about it, I was amazed that it had caused an uproar when first exhibited in the United States. I could see movement which to me was blurring the images to give it a feel of movement. At the time, the Spiderman comic books were brand new and Stan Lee used a blurring effect to show motion. I started experimenting with ways to make things look as if they were in motion.

A color slide of the painting was presented in an art history class in college, I remembered seeing the photo in my encyclopedia. However, this was the first color version I had seen. As I read about the artist and his body of work which included the newly discovered, at that time, Étant donnés. He had worked on it for twenty years. To this day, when I want to express a feeling of movement in my work, I think about Duchamp.

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