This live-action film exploits the triple images of the Gasparcolor system in an unprecedented way. Lye filmed dancer Rupert Doone in black and white, then colored the footage during the development and printing of the film, adding stenciled patterns. Rainbow Dance is packed with new filmic ideas such as moving figures that leave behind a trail of colored silhouettes (as in Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase). The film was sponsored by the GPO Film Unit on the proviso that Lye include a Savings Bank advertisement. —Harvard Film Archive
Len Lye had this revelation, while still a young man. It was to endure as the central theme of his life and art for the next sixty years generating an extraordinary body of works including films, paintings, drawings, writings and sculpture.
He was drawn to modern art by its enthusiasm for creating “new forms” – in Lye’s terms, finding new imagery to “carry” the kinetic feelings that could be discovered in the body. Lye’s sense of movement was always kinesthetic and physical, not purely a matter of visual patterns.
Lye is a clear example of that very rare type of artist who is equally at home in different media. As a young man he was one of the first sculptors in the world to work with movement; and the sculpture he made during the 1960s and 70s (in the collection of the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, the Albright-Knox Gallery and other major museums) is among the best kinetic art of any period. He was also a highly original painter and writer.
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