Reclining Figure, 1959
Digital video
1 minute
Black & white, stereo, 25 fps PAL
Edition 5

This work consists of an image of the exterior of a 1959 Gerrit Rietveld building being gradually blacked-out through a sequential stop-animation process. The blacking-out of the exterior within the linear horizontal and vertical design of the building acts as a means of colouring within the lines. Thus reducing the Modern design to a game of spot-the-difference, shifting the image from representing a building to being a flat shape. In so doing, corrupting Rietveld’s characteristic handling of three-dimensional space, for in the last sequence the view is of an ambiguous shape that prompts the viewer to both recall the original design and to form new associations with the final image.

The proposed title of this work - Reclining Figure, 1959 aims to link the first image of Rietveld’s building with the final blacked-out image, perhaps vaguely reminiscent of a reclining Henry Moore sculpture. Both Rietveld and Moore were Modernist singular ‘geniuses’ working at the same time during the previous century. The imposed link between the two aims to deconstruct Nikolaus Pevner’s notion that "a bicycle shed is a building, Lincoln Cathedral is a piece of architecture." (1) The construct stating that buildings only become architecture when they transcend the utilitarian and ultimately approximate ‘useless‘ works of art.



Hatje, G. (Editor); “Encyclopedia of Modern Architecture”; Thames & Hudson; London; 1963

  Above: video stills
Original photo: © Vrijhof, Rotterdam
    Reclining Figure
Henry Moore : 1945
© The Henry Moore Foundation
Michael MacGarry