Movement in art and design

Movement in art and design relates to physical changes that happen over time. This can be represented using actual movement or by using a range of different compositional or media techniques.

Literal movement

Literal or actual movement can be clearly seen in media works such as film, video and animation.

Physical work can include movement and moving parts. Movement could be mechanically driven or happen as a result of natural effects.

The Astronomical Clock in Prague (1410) features a number of moving statues. These draw our attention more than static figures would.

Every hour the skeleton figure rings a bell and turns a sand timer. These symbolic objects and their link to passing time remind the viewer of human mortality.

Astronomical Clock, Prague, Mikulas of Kadan and Jan Sindel, 1410, Peter Scholey / Alamy Stock Photo
Astronomical Clock, Prague, Mikulas of Kadan and Jan Sindel, 1410, Peter Scholey / Alamy Stock Photo

The artist Alexander Calder created mobiles that move and change composition because of air currents. The gentle movement of organic shapes suggests images from nature – flying birds, fluttering insects, gently spinning leaves.

As with his other mobiles, the shapes of Cascading Flowers (1949) are carefully arranged. The composition stays visually balanced even as the different elements move and change position.

Cascading Flowers, Alexander Calder, 1949, painted metal, painted wire, and wire, Scott Warren / Alamy Stock Photo
Cascading Flowers, Alexander Calder, 1949, painted metal, painted wire, and wire, Scott Warren / Alamy Stock Photo