This experiment was a “prestige advertisement” for Shell Motor Oil. As conventional animation became dominated by Walt Disney, many European filmmakers turned to puppets as an alternative, and Lye enlisted the help of avant-garde friends such as Humphrey Jennings and John Banting to make the amusing puppets. Exploring the still-complex color process, which involved the combination of three separate images, Lye creates such a vivid storm scene that reviewers hailed it as “proof that the color film has entered a new stage.” The music is Holst’s The Planets. –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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I know exactly why I liked this. Its got stop-motion robots who give humans better living through Shell Oil, and its style is so pre-war it borders on steampunk.