Bury, Pol

1922 - 2005

Pol Bury was a Belgian artist who worked in a variety of different media but is best remembered for his kinetic sculptures – both life size and the miniature versions he used in his jewellery. 

Described by his wife Velma as “a completely captivating man with a wicked sense of humour, and a prolific writer as well as being a wonderful artist”, Bury was born in Haine-Saint-Pierre in Belgium in 1922 and studied at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Mons.  As a young artist he met Achille Chavée, a lawyer, communist, former Spanish Civil War fighter, poet and founder member of the Surrealist group Rupture.  Through him met Surrealist artists such as Yves Tanguy and René Magritte who both influenced and inspired Bury.  He began to participate in Surrealist group exhibitions and said that his aim was simple “whether influenced by Tanguy or Magritte, I had the same concerns: to “render” a sky, a cloud, a volume or a surface.”

By the end of the 1940s his style had moved on and he was painting geometric, abstract art. He became a member of the CoBrA group of artists who firmly believed in the complete freedom of colour and form and whose working method was based on spontaneity and experimentation.   However by the early 1950s Bury had abandoned painting to focus on sculpture, inspired by a meeting with Alexander Calder at the latter’s first exhibition at the Maeght Gallery in Paris in 1950.

Bury became one of the first practitioners of ‘kinetic’ art during the 1960s. He emphasizes movement as an essential element of sculpture, stressing that his works are not complete until they are set into motion. In the late 1960s Bury began working in stainless and Cor-Ten steel, producing monumental balls that spun or rolled, columns that rotated, and planes that tilted, all elements that can be seen incorporated into his jewellery.  He made rings, cuffs, necklaces and brooches in silver and gold which all have an immensely tactile quality as well as being visually arresting.  

Bury exhibited widely both in Europe and America and received commissions from private collectors and public institutions all over the word.  In 1985 he received Paris’s Grand Prix National de Sculpture for the two fountains he created for the Palais-Royal gardens in Paris and in 1992 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur. Later in life he began to experiment with additional art forms such as kineticized photographs and engravings as well as film making.  He passed away in 2005 leaving a vast and varied body of work which continues to fascinate and enthral.