Belgian kinetic artist, painter and film-maker, Pol Bury was born in Haine-Saint-Pierre on April 26, 1922.. Best known for his kinetic sculptures, though he also produced collages and paintings, Belgian artist Pol Bury began his career as a Surrealist painter heavily influenced by the work of René Magritte and Yves Tanguy. After turning to geometric abstraction and associating briefly with the CoBrA group, an avant-garde movement that espoused the complete freedom of color and form, Bury discovered Alexander Calder’s work and began making mobiles of painted shapes and sculptures in which movement was emphasized. The movements he assigned to these sometimes-monumental works were often slow and almost imperceptible to the naked eye. “Speed limits space; slowness increases it,” he once said.
In the late 1960s, Bury began working with stainless and Cor-Ten steel, polished brass, and copper. By 1969 he had created his first public fountain, at the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Similar in many ways to his kinetic sculptures, the numerous fountains that Bury designed throughout his lifetime involve arrangements of cylinders and spheres that move slowly and irregularly. In these works, he embraced the reflections and light effects produced by the interaction of metal and water in the open air.
In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Bury exhibited his work alongside that of other ZERO artists in Vision in Motion—Motion in Vision at Antwerp’s Hessenhuis (1959); Bewogen Beweging (Moving Movement, 1961), which traveled from Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum to the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and the Louisiana Museum, Humlebk, Denmark; Tentoonstelling nul (known as Nul 62) and Nul negentienhonderd vijf en zestig (Nul 65), both at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum (1962 and 1965, respectively); and Documenta 3 (1964) in Kassel, Germany. Retrospectives featuring the artist’s work have been organized by the University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1970); Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City (1977–78); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1982); and Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, Germany (1990). Bury died on September 27, 2005, in Paris.
Today his work can be seen in international institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium among others.