Entertainment & Arts

US artist Robert Breer dies aged 85

Float 1970/2004 Courtesy gb agency, Paris © the artist
Image caption Breer began creating his large floating sculptures in the 1960s

US artist and pioneering film-maker Robert Breer has died aged 85, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art has confirmed.

He was regarded by academics as one of the founding members of the American avant-garde for his experimental animation techniques.

Originally a painter, Breer turned his attention to film in the 1950s.

He became known for his line painting animations and largescale floating sculptures.

Breer was also credited as being one of the first artists to have their films displayed in art galleries.

Born in Detroit in 1926, Breer initially studied engineering at Stanford before making the move into painting.

After moving to Paris in 1949, Breer began to introduce implied movement and free-floating lines into his abstract artwork.

Within three years, he started to experiment with animation, first with flip books and then film.

Image caption Breer's early paintings were inspired by Piet Mondrian's grid-based abstracts

In his first film, 1952's Form Phases, Breer set his paintings into motion by transferring them onto index cards and shooting them sequentially, frame by frame, with a 16mm camera.

In the 1960s Breer returned to the US and created his large motion sculptures - known as floats - which move at a very slow speed before changing direction upon a collision.

During his 50-year career, he became a pioneer of animation, discovering new techniques by trial and error, and experimenting using line, collage and photographic images.

In 1987 Breer was awarded the American Film Institute's Maya Deren Award, a lifetime achievement award for underground and independent filmmakers.

The artist's influence on the industry led the Harvard Film Institute to refer to him as the "kinetic poet of the avant-garde".

A retrospective of Breer's work is currently on display at the Baltic in Gateshead until 25 September.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites