Nicolas Schöffer | i |
last name: Schöffer
first name: Nicolas
birthday: 1912
birth-place: Kalocsa (Hungary)
death date: 1992

Nicolas Schöffer was one of the truly innovative artists whose theoretical and practical influence on present day art is remarkable. Born in Hungary and active in Paris since 1936, he developed theories of spatiodynamism (1948), luminodynamism (1957), and chronodynamism(1959) which challenged earlier notions of static viewing of sculpture. From his first cybernetic sculpture CYSP 1 (1956) through the later ballet inspired cybernetic Light Tower in the city of Liège and various other public sculptures in the 1970s, he worked independent of art trends and labels at the time. His dynamic cybernetic constructions worked at the borderline of science, electronics, mathematics, and art, constantly altering their aesthetic features. His career as creator-innovator includes sculpture, architecture, urbanism, total theatre, tapestry, film/video, music, teaching and books.

Remark: The Light Tower Cybernetic Sculpture has been rebuilt (open in May, 2016).


Early Life Studies drawing, painting and piano starting at the age of 7. Secondary studies in the Jesuit College of Kalocsa. Graduates from the School of Fine Arts in Budapest (Hungary).
1932 Participates in the exhibition at Nemzeti Szalon (exhibition hall of the Society of Hungarian Artists and Patrons), Budapest.
1936 Studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (Atelier Sabatté). Lives in Paris since this date.
1938 Participation in the ‘Living room of the Independent ones’.
1939 to 1945 Takes refuge in Auvergne, in the area of Capdenac during World War II.
1941 Employed in a foundry in the factories of Chélassière in Saint-Etienne, France.
1947 Exhibition at the Gallery Breteau (Paris), naturalized as a French citizen on June 25.
1948 Participates in the exhibition ‘The Compass card’, Gallery of the Two-Islands, Paris. Develops ideas on ‘Spatiodynamisme’.
1949 Participates in the exhibition ‘Eloquence of the Line’, Gallery of the Two-Islands, Paris.
1950 Exhibits for the first time Spatiodynamic Sculptures – ‘Spatiodynamique 1’ and prototype of ‘Spatiodynamique 2’ at the Galerie des Deux-Iles, Paris. Participates in the ‘Mobiles of the Love’, Harriet Hubbard Ayer, in Paris and Marseilles. Creates a ‘Spatiodynamic Electric Clock’, realized with Henri Perlstein, engineer, and financed by André Bloc.
1951 Participates in the ‘Salon de la Jeun Sculpture’ with the Spatiodynamique 11 at the court of the Museum of Modern Art.
1953 Participates in the group show ‘Quatre et quatre’, Gallery Colette Alendy, Paris.
1954 Creates the ‘Cybernetic and Sound Spatiodynamique’ (50 m high) for the 1st Salon Bâtimat, Paris (France). Releases his first book Spatiodynamisme (ED. AA, Boulogne)
1955 Constructs a house with invisible dividing wall, for the 2nd Salon Bâtimat, Paris (France).
1956 Creates the First Autonomous Cybernetic Sculpture, ‘CYSP 1’, presented by André Parinaud, at The Night of Poetry, Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris.
1958 Exhbition at the Galerie Denise René, Paris.
1959 Participates at Documenta 2, Kassel, Germany.
1960 Exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
1961 Realises the Cybernetic Tower of Liège (52 m high – 66 revolving mirrors – 120 colored projectors – photoelectric cells and microphones), together with a 1500 sq-m animated coloured performance on the façade of the Palace of Congress, reflected by the Meuse river, with music by Henri Pousseur.
1961 1st Video production in the history of television: ‘Variations Luminodynamiques 1’ (Télévision Française).
1963 Retrospective exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Pavillon de Marsan, Le Louvre (Paris) where the reduced model of the Cybernetic Light Tower of Paris-La Défense is shown for the first time.
1964 Participates at Documenta 3, Kassel, Germany.
1965 Co-founder of GIAP (International Group of Prospective Architecture)^. Exhibition at “2 Kinetic Sculptors: Nicolas Schöffer and Jean Tinguely” in Jewish Museum (New York) and Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington D.C.
1966 Participates in the ‘Lumière et mouvement’, Museum of Modern Art, Paris.
1968 Receives the first Grand Prize of the Biennale of Venice. Creates the PRISM for the exhibition of the Y.E.A.A. (Tokyo).
1969 Co-creation of the UP7 (Pedagogical Unit of Prospective Architecture) in the Fine-Arts School of Paris
1970 Exhibits the 12 m animated maquette of the T.L.C. (Cybernetic Light Tower of Paris-La Défense) at the Universal Exposition, Osaka (Japan).
1971 Participates in ‘Art et Science’, Museum of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel.
1973 Exhibits SCAM 1, 1st Auto-Mobile-Sculpture in Milan (Italy) and Paris (chassis: Renault; coachwork: Coggiola, Torino)
1973 KYLDEX 1. 1st experimental cybernetic show, at Hamburg Opera House, with music by Pièrre Henry, choreography by Alwin Nikolais with Carolyn Carlson.
1974 Exhibits in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Installation of a 20 m programmed sculpture: CHRONOS 8, San Francisco (USA).
1975 Exhibits at the Galerie Denise René / Hans Meyer, Düsseldorf (Germany).
1977 Creates the first luminodynamic tapestry: MURLUX 1, woven out of plastic tubes. Starts research in sound. Exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, Bonn (Germany).
1980 Inauguration of the Nicolas Schöffer Museum in his birth place, Kalocsa (Hungary)
1981 Initiates experiments with GRAPHILUX, an instrument to promote literacy and artistic pedagogy at kindergartens and primary schools, in Kalocsa. Conducts musical experiments ‘Variations on 600’ within the framework of the IRCAM Computer Sound-Structure Research program, Paris.
1982 A 26 m cybernetic tower, CHRONOS 8, is inaugurated at Kalocsa (Hungary). Elected as a Member of the Institute of France, Fine Arts Academy.
1984 Organises the first Seminar in Kalocsa : ‘New Technologies in Contemporary Artistic Research’.
1985 Organises the second Seminar in Kalocsa : ‘New Research in Contemporary Music’. International workshop organised by UNESCO for the promotion of the GRAPHILUX, Nice (France). As the result of a stroke he cannot use his right hand and arm anymore.
1986 Organises the third Seminar in Kalocsa : ‘New Reseach in Graphic Poetry’.
1988 Installation of the 27 m high TOUR D’AIN, at the A40 and A42 highway crossroads, Pont d’Ain (France). Installation of the 30 m LYONEON, a cybernetically programmed neon tower for the new metro station, place d’Arsonval, Lyon (France). Starts research with his left hand on the Macintosh computer ORDIGRAPHICS. Participates in the exhibition ‘Digital Visions’, Gallery IBM, New York.
1989 Participates in the first French Academy of Beaux-Arts exhibition in Moscow, Russia. Exhibits the projects ‘Percussonors, Basculantes and Hydrothermochronos’ at the Hungarian Institute, Paris.
1990 The President of the Republic decorates him Commander of the National Order of Merit in the Elysée Palace, Paris (France).
1991 Organises the fourth Seminar in Kalocsa: ‘New Research in Architecture’ at the Schöffer Mùzeum, Kalocsa (Hungary).
1992 Dies on the 6th of January.
posted about 7 years ago
The cybernetic tower of Liège have been completly renewed and will be inaugurated in the begining of may 2016
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