Return to NZ

From the 1960s, Lye had increasing contacts with New Zealand artists. He made return trips to the country in 1968 and 1977, and during the second of those trips he worked with a New Plymouth team (led by John Matthews) to build sculptures for display at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Lye was so pleased with the results that he decided to leave his collection of art to the people of New Zealand, to be held at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, under the supervision of the Len Lye Foundation. Now the creation of a Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth can keep his amazing work permanently on display. At present, New Plymouth is the only place in the world to see Lye’s largest sculptures, such as giant versions of Trilogy, Blade, and Wind Wand.

The Foundation agrees strongly with something that film-maker Stan Brakhage wrote when Lye died: “We must now fight very hard to get Len Lye’s work anchored in the EYES of this society (as distinct from simply shelved)….”

Since his death there have been major exhibitions of his work at overseas museums such as the Centre Pompidou and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. When a new national art museum for Germany – the Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – held its opening exhibition in 1992, it presented its selection of the hundred most original artists of the 20th century. These were artists who had created “masterpieces,” “extraordinary objects,” “seminal” works that had served to “mark decisive points” in the history of art. Lye was represented both by his sculpture Universe and by his film A Colour Box.

Photo Gallery: Return to NZ

Return to Cape Campbell 1968
Workng with John Matthews in Lye's West Village studio, 1974
At the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 1977
Len and Ann , Warwick, 1980
Lye in 1980
<em>Wind Wand</em> on the New Plymouth foreshore