Assignment Inspiration: "In Motion"


UFG's next group show is titled "In Motion," with an open call for artwork that somehow responds to or directly depicts movement. Artists working in different media have been inspired by movement in various ways, reflecting dance, gesture, transportation, demolition, athletics, and other kinetic forms. If you'd like to participate, but are stuck for ideas or inspiration, here are a few examples of different artists dealing with motion in their work. The deadline for submitting to the show is Sunday February 23.

The earliest photographers were compelled to document movement, including Eadweard Muybridge with his pioneering experiments on film. He took pictures of bodies in motion, of men fighting, women moving, and horses galloping, so that when shown in rapid succession the images become animated. More recently, Israeli photographer Ori Gersht (who was featured in a solo show at the MFA last year) captures flower bouquets exploding, modeled after Dutch still lifes. His camera reveals a split-second image that the human eye could not perceive alone, magnificent in its destructive detail. With a similar approach but opposite effect, Jack Long creates still lifes through motion, capturing the shapes of splashed, multicolored liquid that merge into floral forms at just the right moment.


ori gersht

jack long flowers


Though rooted in violence, sexism, and fascist ideology, Italian Futurism is relevant here for its interest in motion and speed. The Futurists looked to new technologies and industrial developments to create a wholly new and original art. Artists like Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla depicted movement through blurred shapes and distorted figures, pulling from machine imagery and scenes of modern urban life. In the US, Precisionist painter Charles Demuth turned to Cubist models for his work, blending geometric shapes with realism and movement. His "I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold" imagines the fire truck described in a William Carlos Williams poem, zooming through the city at night, nothing more than a bright "5" set against lights and abstract shapes.





Many traditional artists have turned to dance for inspiration, with the most famous being Edgar Degas. He almost obsessively drew female ballet dancers, both at rest and in action. Some of his pieces show dancers on stage performing, while others focus on small, intimate moments as the girls adjust their laces or costumes. Moving from dance to music, Expressionist painter Wassily Kandinsky found ways to visualize sound through his art, in the process producing a wealth of active, kinetic abstract paintings whose forms seem to dance across the page. Decades later, Cy Twombly turned to a frenzied linework and meandering script to create his own brand of abstract art in motion.




cy twombly


A contemporary artist who depicts feats of motion in her work is Sayaka Ganz. Using only recycled and reclaimed materials- including kitchen utensils, metal objects, and toys- Ganz creates remarkably energetic sculptures, usually animals in the act of running, jumping, or flying. In a more understated approach, painter Jen Mann suggests movement by showing figures in multiple positions overlaid and within one another, revealing gesture and change in a slightly surreal manner.

sayaka ganz

jen mann

Movement is everywhere, it's just up to you to express it! Now get creating and join our March exhibit!