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'Bewogen Beweging', Stedelijk Museum, 1961

In March 1961, at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, the exhibition Bewogen Beweging (Moving Movement) opened to the public.

Curated by Pontus Hultén, it stayed in Amsterdam for six weeks before moving to the Moderna Museet, Stockholm under the title Rörelse Konsten (Movement in Art) and later the same year it travelled to the Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen.

The exhibition brought together artists working in kinetic art, performance, happenings and film, along with a host of 'static' works - some by artists linked to Neo-Dadaism, such as Robert Rauschenberg. The exhibition was described as the first 'International Exhibition of Art in Motion'. In total, 233 works by eighty-three artists from eighteen countries were shown.

Artists whose work involved movement in the most literal sense included Alexander Calder, Takis, Nicolas Schöeffer and Pol Bury. Jean Tinguely had twenty-eight pieces in the show, including a fifty-foot machine outside the entrance to the Stedelijk Museum. For Stockholm, Tinguely made 'Ballet des Pauvesm', a construction of old, unwanted objects hanging from a ceiling that would shake and quiver violently in an unpredictable motion.

Robert Rauschenberg's work made for Bewogen Beweging was interactive; 'Black Market' invited the viewer to take something from a suitcase below the work and replace it with something that belonged to them. The participant was then asked to record this trade on a pad of paper.

British artists were represented by recent works by Kenneth Martin and Roy Ascott. Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore showed 'an Exhibit', a joint work from 1957.

The exhibition catalogue published by the Stedelijk Museum is as striking as any of the works. The catalogue is unusually long and thin measuring 58 x 11cm. The front cover features a print of Marcel Duchamp's 'Bicycle Wheel' from 1913, a work which featured in the show.

The catalogue

The catalogue begins with quotes from artists and writers including Marinetti, Jean-Paul Sartre, John Cage and Naum Gabo, supporting the case for movement as a revolutionary force in art. At the end of the catalogue, an essay by Hultén, in concertina form, sketches out the history of artists' interest in movement, from Futurism to new works.

Although attendance figures for the exhibition were high, the show attracted some criticism from artists. George Rickey, in his review of the exhibition in Amsterdam published in Arts Magazine, September 1961, criticised the exhibition for 'the neo-Dada bias in the contemporary section and the beautification of Tinguely'.

The Research Library

The Research Library holds the Dutch version of the catalogue; a Swedish one also exists.

See issue 67 of our journal Essays on Sculpture, 'Books and Sculpture', for a discussion on the how sculpture has been captured on the page. It includes details of SHE, an exhibition curated by Pontus Hultén at Moderna Museet in 1966.