Feb 22, 2020 · 5:27 PM

Date 1964
Object dimensions 70.5 x 70.5 x 20 cm
Technique/material Dispersion paint, wood, motor, Pantone board
Credit Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Das Progressive Museum Basel
Inv. no. SK04011
Gianni Colombo

Roto-Optic

Gianni Colombo (born 1937 in Milan, Italy, died 1993 in Melzo, Italy) was one of the most important representatives of kinetic art in Italy. Through his objects and installations, he made a major contribution to the extended definition of art in the 1960s. In 1959, he founded the association Gruppo T in Milan together with like-minded artists. The “T” stands for “tempo,” or “time” in Italian, and refers to the group’s goal of integrating the art object into space and time through movement and variability.
Colombo studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan from 1956 to 1959, and he presented his first kinetic and changeable objects to the public in 1959. In some of his earlier series, the audience was able to modify structures and reliefs through simple actions. In his “In-Out” objects, for example, the elements in a grid of dots or lines could be pressed in to change the surface structure. In other series, objects that were often based on a geometric vocabulary of forms were modified mechanically. In 1964, Colombo became increasingly fascinated with aspects of spatial perception. He began to design his “Ambienti,” which were accessible environments that could have slanted floors and columns (see his “Architetture cacogoniometriche”), stairs with non-rectangular steps (“Bariestesie”), or room-sized booths called “Spazi elastici,” which were dark spaces in which strings reflecting ultraviolet light were spun in a rectangular grid structure that had been mechanically deformed to give the impression that the entire room was distorted. Colombo won first prize for one of his “Ambienti” at the 34th Venice Biennale in 1968.
The works by Colombo in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv are excellent examples of how his art combines kinetic elements with optical effects. When the work “Roto-Optic” is set in motion and the black disc is rotating at high speed, the two small rods with color points attached to it seem to create a form consisting of several overlapping ellipses. Another work, the “Strutturazione acentrica,” is an upright cylinder consisting of several layers of small, horizontal square tubes. Each layer is turned slightly around the axis of the cylinder compared to the level below. When set in rotation, we are able to see through the entire structure in different times and places, and the momentary views seem to wander from top to bottom like a ray of light.

Deborah Keller




With financial support by:

Lotteriefonds Canton of Zurich

Baugarten Stiftung
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Dr. Adolph Streuli-Stiftung
Stiftung Kunstsammlung Albert und Melanie Rüegg



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Feb 22, 2020
5:15:00 PM CET