The Pol Bury “Moments in Time – 50 Years of Sculpture” exhibition, a first retrospective since 1982, which is currently on at the Fondation EDF was unexpectedly more interesting than I had anticipated. I went expecting sculptures of course – mainly spheres by this Belgian artist, but spent a rather long time looking at not only spheres, of every conceivable size made of metal and wood, but also wooden sculptures which he motorised (not wanting to not leave their movement to the viewer), and pieces with metal hairs, which you only realised after standing there looking at for a while that…they moved.
Pol Bury’s work was about introducing kinetic energy to his sculptures. So I spent an afternoon contemplating spheres and wooden blocks. Even my husband – who was reluctant to go to the exhibit – enjoyed it. Looking around the gallery, it was amusing watching people looking at these objects, waiting for that very minuscule of movements created by the motor, before moving on to the next sculpture. Watching the sculptures was all oddly hypnotic.
Here are some quick facts about Pol Bury, more of which can be found on the website: He started painting when he was 25, influenced by the work of René Magritte – him of the paintings that have become very recognisable in pop culture. Like his Son of Man (1964) a self-portrait; The Pilgrim; The Portrait (1935), amongst others. He transitioned from painting to three-dimensional works after seeing the work of American sculptor Alexander Calder – known as the founder of the mobile. He abandoned painting in 1953 and made his first mobile reliefs. He motorised them a year later, and constructed three-dimensional watervanes in 1955. He also designed jewelry – some of his pieces can be seen at the exhibition; taught at Paris National School of Fine Arts from 1983-1987, and was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 1992.
The water fountains in the Palais Royal courtyard are by none other. They were installed there in 1985, and were awarded Paris’s National Grand Prize for Sculpture. Foundation EDF is running the Pol Bury exhibition until 23 August.