Sculpting Glossary

What is a Kinetic Sculpture? The 3 Characteristics Of One

March 20, 2023 by

In this guide, we’ll be diving into everything you need to know about kinetic sculptures.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

What is a Kinetic Sculpture?

A kinetic sculpture is a form of kinetic art that uses movement that is perceivable by the viewer for its effect.

Kinetic means movement, and the movement often used in kinetic art is engine driven.

This was partly to explore the possibilities of action, partly to introduce a time factor, partly to show the importance of machinery and technology in today’s world, and partly to explore the type of perspective.

To further explore kinetic sculptures to see what they look like, we also recommend this video by the Art Insider:

How Are Kinetic Sculptures Made?

Kinetic sculptures can be made with any material, but are often used with metals and either use engines or batteries for the movement.

To further explore how to make a kinetic sculpture, we also recommend this video by the Boston University:

What are the Characteristics of Kinetic Art?

Three characteristics of Kinetic art are as follows:

1. Movement

Whether in a car, using a battery, air-dependent, or optical illusions, movement is the backbone of kinetic art.

2. Objects

Different daily objects are used to make these kinetic sculptures.

3. Mechanics

Kinetic art use many pieces and use some form of mechanical or mechanical components to provide movement.

Tips for Creating Kinetic Sculptures

The following are the tips to create kinetic sculptures:

  1. Determine what parts/materials you want to use.
  2. Make blueprint/outline.
  3. Make them into the required form.
  4. Determine what you will use for motion (air, battery, engine).

If you want more tips, refer to the video above.

Famous Kinetic Sculpture Artists

1. Naum Gabo

Naum Gabo was a Russian sculptor who worked with architect Vladimir Tatlin and Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich.

Gabo emigrated from Russia before World War II to the United States in 1946, where he remained until his death.

Gabo’s metal sculptures and kinetic art influenced the filmmakers throughout several artistic movements.

2. Alexander Calder

American artist Alexander Calder has created mobile phones and digital images.

Although he initially used engines to perform movements, he switched to air currents and spectator interactions with his later activities.

His most influential portraits include Arc of Petals (1941) and Cat Mobile (1966).

3. George Rickey

American kinetic sculptor George Rickey is best known for his stainless steel paintings.

Rickey experimented with kinetic sculptures such as Two Turning Vertical Rectangles (1969).

Popular Kinetic Sculptures

1. Naum Gabo’s Kinetic Construction

Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) is a machine, a metal image.

When turned on, the metal rod moves quickly, creating the impression that it moves by moving the snake.

2. Alexander Calder’s Arc of Petals (1941)

Arc of Petals is a famous kinetic art piece created by Alexander Calder in the 1930s.

3. Homage to New York by Jean Tinguely (1960)

Tinguely’s most famous episode, Homage to New York, was a chaotic building with connected machines.

Part of the Sculpture and part of the work of art, the piece brought a wave of kinetic art of excellence using artifacts.

Final Remarks

Kinetic sculpture gives a new and unique look to the audience viewing these sculptures.

They move and sway and are truly moving pieces of art.