Kinetic art not only includes movement but often depends on it to produce an intended effect and therefore fully realize its nature as art. It can take a multiplicity of forms and include a wide range of motion, from motorized and electrically driven movement to motion as the result of wind, light, or other sources of energy. Kinetic art emerged throughout the twentieth century and had its major developments in the 1950s and 1960s.
Professionals responsible for conserving contemporary art are in the midst of rethinking the concept of authenticity and solving the dichotomy often felt between original materials and functionality of the work of art. The contrast is especially acute with kinetic art when a compromise between the two often seems impossible. Also to be considered are issues of technological obsolescence and the fact that an artist’s chosen technology often carries with it strong sociological and historical information and meanings.
Rachel Rivenc is an associate scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute and author of Made in Los Angeles: Materials, Processes, and the Birth of West Coast Minimalism (Getty Publications, 2015). Reinhard Bekis a partner of Bek & Frohnert LLC, a conservation studio specializing in modern and contemporary art.