Nationality: French

A versatile artist and theoretician, a major exponent of kinetic art and a precursor of electronic and digital art, Nicolas Schöffer began developing his forward-looking ideas in the 1950s, first in painting and then in sculpture, in a neo-plastician vein close to Mondrian. He soon extended his investigations to all dimensions of the city, and from 1948 to 1956 developed his concept of "spatiodynamism", first through stable structures, then kinetic ones. Seeking to restore art to its primary function in society by enabling man to radically modify his conditions of existence through spiritual enrichment, Nicolas Schöffer attributed a therapeutic role to the new plastic art. Exploiting his concept of "plasticology", he was convinced of the impact of the plastic environment on the retinal image and therefore on human behaviour and even morphology. From 1952 to 1955, he worked with Claude Parent on spatiodynamic architecture. Based on the latest technologies, his spatial works gradually incorporated other parameters, such as light, colour and sound. After building the first spatiodynamic, cybernetic and sound tower in 1954, Nicolas Schöffer created the first autonomous cybernetic sculpture, CYSP, in 1956, presented on stage at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt to music by Pierre Henry. This was followed in 1961 by the spatiodynamic and cybernetic Tour Lumière (52 m) and the coloured and moving Mur Lumière at the Palais des Congrès in Liège, both of which have been listed as Historic Monuments since 1998, before turning his attention to musical projects.

Born in Hungary, Nicolas Schöffer studied at the Budapest School of Fine Arts and obtained a doctorate in law. He emigrated to Paris in 1936 and continued his studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In addition to his work as a multidisciplinary artist, he also devoted himself to teaching, creating several films and writing numerous works on aesthetics and cybernetics (La ville cybernétique, 1969; La nouvelle charte de la ville, 1974). A member of the Institut de France, Officier de la Légion d'Honneur, Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Mérite and Officier des Arts et Lettres, Nicolas Schöffer has been honoured by the Order of the Hungarian Flag, which has dedicated a museum to him, and by the Franck J. Malina-Leonardo Prize (1986) in San Francisco.

— Nadine Labedade


1973 / 16mm / color / sound / single screen / 12' 00 / 54 €
distribution: 16mm