"Why I was finding rationales for being crazy about jazz was simply because it had so much to do with happiness, the expression of intensely felt verve. Which was just a joy” - Len Lye
The Len Lye Centre opens with a swing in its step and a new survey of Lye’s practice, Len Lye’s Jam Session. Taking inspiration from the musical elements in Lye’s work, Len Lye’s Jam Session presents such well-known and well-loved works as the bounding steel of the sculpture Universe (1976), the flashing energy of the film Free Radicals (1958) and the delicate sway of the sculpture Grass (1961–1965), alongside lesser known and rarely considered material from the Len Lye Foundation Collection and Archives.
Music permeates much of Len Lye’s oeuvre, from the jazz and Latin standards he translated in film to his dancing, ‘singing’ sculptures. Less appreciated is the musical quality of Lye’s kinetic sculptures – his ‘tangibles’ – works that are often subtle and near silent, through to the violent and raucous. When Lye was told his Loop (1964) of bouncing steel, when struck, ‘sounded like the universe’, he could only oblige with a new name for the work. Wherever the muse of motion led Lye, music was a frequent companion.
Len Lye’s Jam Session digs deep into Lye’s practice to survey his career as a filmmaker, sculptor, painter and thinker alongside the wider picture of 20th Century popular and avant-garde music that inspired him.