Redefining Movement with Art – Robert Breer

Is Robert Breer’s work Neoplasticism? Reminds me of Mondrian. Also constructivism and Bauhaus. Minimal, geometric, slabs and cubes, few colors. Making the viewer an active participant. Even Dada. Finding meaning in the nonsensical, or conceiving meaning from the nonsensical. Maybe that’s why I liked Kamikaze so much. Robert Breer did it all.

Nothing that Breer creates is fixed, or static, yet, it is. It stops time. Activity as fixity. Objects and images that seem stationary, challenging the definition and our perception of movement. How does time and space interact? How do we fit in? Time travel does exist.

The motorized sculptures were my favorite. Moving slowly and ever so slightly that it takes a moment to realize they are in motion. A piece of Styrofoam and crumpled, puckered plastic just floating around the space, with us, without us. Autonomous and independent. They are alive! Barely. But I can hear them breathing. Softly. It’s the hum of a motor. Does the sculpture look better here, or here? Doesn’t matter…they will decide for themselves.

I did not find the motorized wall exciting or thrilling. I found the smaller objects to be because they rolled about at inconspicuous, imperceptible speeds, and they were very low to the ground, crawling around your feet. Like prefabricated, industrial, antisocial insects. It felt like I was in on their secret, once I realized they were moving. The wall was obtrusive, intrusive, and obvious. Overkill. But perhaps that was the point.

The animation 70 also challenged movement – images so sudden and tumultuous they become motionless, one picture. The frames themselves as paintings, multiplying, stretching, expanding, forming a single image, a single story. The film was violent, the geometric shapes forms blobs rough and jagged, bleeding and dissolving into harsh flashes of color. Yet, I could not stop watching, no matter how painful, no matter how unsettling. It was mesmerizing and absorbing– like the motorized sculptures. I needed to know what was going on. After I visited the show I looked up more of his films, and they were all very inspiring, very cool. I am in a stop motion class, and it’s encouraging to know that he created these animations with only hand drawn index cards. It’s sometimes intimidating and overwhelming to see work in galleries or museums or any institutional setting, for it seems so inconceivable to be at the level. At least, to me. Discovering and learning about the process or history of an artwork sometimes grounds an artist, and makes a goal more realizable.

Even the painting Time Out insinuated a sense of motion, a wobbly, wonky, waver in rigidity. Disrupting what is emblematic of a painting, to be flat, to be fixed, to be a suspended image. Breer makes the black lines uneven, Breer makes the black lined square itself appear askew, slightly leaning, slightly faltering. The blocks of color are inconsistent, curving and warping the image. It’s awesome! It’s kind of boring but still awesome.

I liked his handwriting as well. Inspiring show.




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