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Biography

Nicolas Schöffer

Nicolas Schöffer in his studio, Paris, France

Nicolas Shöffer was born in Kalocsa, Hungary on September 6, 1912.  

Schöffer is considered the founder of cybernetic art, having built a bridge between aesthetic and cybernetic concepts with great success. He studied painting at the School of Fine Arts in Budapest from 1932 to 1935 and then at the School of Fine Arts in Paris, where he ended up residing for most of his life. The metallic sculptures that he created in the 1940s were immersed in the languages of constructivism and neoplasticism, through which he began to explore the relationships between the tridimensional sculptural form and the fourth dimension of time and movement.

Schöffer’s innovation was to bring the theories of cybernetics (particularly those of Norbert Wiener) to the process of artistic creation, conceiving of the works no longer solely as artistic objects but as systems of organization that produced diverse forms of feedback between themselves and the spectators. His sculpture CYSP 1 (1956), developed with electronic computations from the Philips company, detected the variations in its surroundings, which then produced mechanical reactions in the rest of the piece. From then on, Schöffer’s sculptures used light, movement and sound as the base from which to show kinetic principles in action.

He died in Paris on January 8, 1992.