Takis: The Fourth Dimension
“Diotima said to Socrates: ‘You know that creation forms a general class. When anything comes into being which did not exist before, the cause of this is always creation.’ What Diotima said to Socrates I try all my life to accomplish.” – Takis, 2014
Born Panagiotis Vassilakis in Athens in 1925, Takis is world-renowned for his explorations of the gap between art and science. Since the mid-1950s, he has continually pushed into new aesthetic territories, creating three-dimensional works of art that incorporate invisible energies as a fourth element. Takis, who describes himself as an “instinctive scientist,” employs powerful forces to generate the compositions, movements, and musical sounds of his static and kinetic works. Electromagnetism has been his abiding fascination and the subject of continual study, including as a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1960s. With 25 works, the largest single group outside of Europe, the Menil Collection has had a long relationship with the artist. Takis: The Forth Dimension will be the first-ever museum survey of the artist’s career in the United States. It is being organized by Toby Kamps, Menil Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Takis’s earliest works are small sculptures inspired by the simplified, geometric forms of ancient Cycladic sculptures; egglike bronze forms referencing interior volumes and centrifugal forces; and the ongoing Signals series, antenna like sculptures inspired by radio and radar that move in the wind. Later works from the 1960s, dubbed tele-peintures and tele-sculptures by French critic Alain Jouffroy (from the Greek word tele, meaning “at a distance”) are paintings and sculptures incorporating magnetism in their designs. For example, the Menil Collection’s Magnetic Painting No. 7, 1962, uses strong magnets behind a yellow monochrome canvas to make metal objects restrained by wires hover above its surface. AndBallet Magnetique I, 1961, uses an electromagnet to make a metal sphere suspended from a wire orbit above it. Two more recent works donated to the museum by the artist in memory of the de Menil family,Magnetic Wall - M.W. 038, 1999, and Musical - M. 013, 2000, use magnets to shape a drawing made of coiled steel wire and to create simple “naked music,” respectively.