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Stopped Short: Writings on Len Lye 1977-2017

Stopped Short: Writings on Len Lye 1977-2017

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Stopped Short: Writings on Len Lye 1977-2017 gathers Wystan Curnow’s key writings on Len Lye.

Len Lye (1901–80) is known for his dazzling experimental films and kinetic sculptures—parallel expressions of his desire to create an art of motion.

The first half centres on his discovery of Lye’s work in New York; the second explores its repatriation to Lye’s homeland where the establishment of the Len Lye Foundation and a dedicated Len Lye Centre in Ngāmotu New Plymouth has cemented Lye’s significance within Aotearoa New Zealand art history.  

Each half is introduced by Curnow, reflecting back on his earlier writings. In addition to offering a wealth of insights into Lye’s work, Stopped Short is also a study in reception, meditating on Lye’s place in world art, his place in Aotearoa New Zealand art, and the shifting relationship between them.

For five decades, Wystan Curnow has been an advocate for—and authority on—the works of filmmaker and sculptor Len Lye. Alongside his friend and sometime collaborator Roger Horrocks, Curnow has championed the Aotearoa New Zealand–born artist’s work and driven its growing popular and critical recognition. 

It is always a pleasure to delve into an art writer’s sustained engagement with a single subject. As readers we can share their journey of discovery, their deepening focus and new insights. Such is Stopped Short, Wystan Curnow’s collected writings – essays, interviews and letters – on artist Len Lye. In Curnow, Lye has found an eloquent exegete, a writer who can both tune in to the ‘zing’ and ‘pop’ of Lye’s scratch films, kinetic sculptures and eccentric speech, and keenly map the trajectories of a practice that has travelled from New Zealand to New York and back again. This compilation benefits enormously from Curnow’s reflections on his output, creating a vivid context for his thoughts and making sense of the flow and shifts that take place in his writing. Together with Lye’s biographer, Roger Horrocks, Curnow has secured Len Lye’s lasting legacy. An artist who could well have been lost to our art history, he now holds a place as one of the world’s most inventive practitioners of the modern era.

—Christina Barton, art historian

Published by Bouncy Castle and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre, with generous support from the Len Lye Foundation, Pollen Contemporary Art Foundation, and Grant Kerr.

Pre-order your copy now for shipping on 18 May or purchase a copy at a special discounted price at the book launch on 18 May at 5PM at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth. 

Stopped Short is distributed by Rim Books and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Shop.

Publication date: April 2024
Flexicover | 180 x 235 x 18mm | 208 pages |
ISBN 979-0-473-67853-1

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