Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR's local journalism that brings clarity, context, and community!

Tim Hawkinson: Creating Art with Moving Parts

Tim Hawkinson's art has been called slyly conceptual and a carnival sideshow, awe-inspiring and absurd. Sarah Spitz of member station KCRW reports on a mid-career retrospective of Hawkinson's work now on view in the artist's hometown of Los Angeles, where some of the challenges and contrasts in his work become evident.

The first thing visitors to the exhibit come upon is Pentecost, a massive tree with 12 Gumby-shaped figures sprawling on its giant branches. When a motion detector senses the viewer's presence, the figures begin striking the tree like a drum, each using a different body part.

Several of the works in the show react to human presence, and often suggest a spirituality that Hawkinson downplays in conversation. Co-curator Howard Fox calls Hawkinson's mechanized creations "metaphysical machines."

The exhibit can be seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through Aug. 28.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.