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Bicycles in Art

A century ago the bicycle was the symbol of modern freedom and independence and it was also represented in the visual arts. Catalan artist Ramon Casas in 1897 painted a portrait of himself and fellow artist Pere Romeu on a tandem bicycle. In 1913 Umberto Boccioni painted ‘Dynamism of a Cyclist’ and Marcel Duchamp created his first readymade with a bicycle wheel mounted upside down on a stool.

A hundred years later, for environmental and economic reasons, there is resurgence in the popularity of the bicycle. For over a year I have been looking for contemporary art about bicycles but I haven’t seen much until today (I did hear about the Bicycle Film Festival in Melbourne in 2007). Today I wandered into 1000 Pound Bend to see the visual arts program of Melbourne Bike Fest.

Circular Cycle at Melbourne Bike Fest

Part of Melbourne Bike Fest’s visual arts program was a small exhibition of prints, drawings and paintings on one wall. Amongst the works was a woodblock print by Tom Civil of figures riding bicycles, a smaller version of the stencil backdrop to the stage. I noticed that there were works by other street artists, like SnotRag who did three portraits of bicycle related injuries. In another corner there was a confessional style booth for telling and listening to “Bike Story”. But I was most interested in the Circular Bike and Matt Benn’s “Improbable Bikes” as these were such fun as sculptures. These bicycles as sculptures suggest way of life – imagine riding one of them.

Matt Benn Improbable Bike

Matt Benn Improbable Cycle

I ride a bicycle so I am biased in my interest in bicycles in art. For more on bicycle art see Bikejuju section on bike art.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

One response to “Bicycles in Art

  • Miss Eagle

    I don’t ride a bike but love that pic of the bikes in a circle. I love it when the stuff we see everyday is given a new look with an eye and an imagination that has a gift for design. Full marks, Mark, for ferretting this out for us!

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