Milan Dobeš

Milan Dobeš

Born July 29 1929, Přerov
Lived in Bratislava (1951)

Milan Dobeš is the epitome of an optical-kinetic artist; in his work he has connected constructivist tendencies with the elements of light and movement, thus creating original, aesthetic pieces. He was inspired by the effort to express movement as the basic prerequisite for the existence of everything in its most simple form - that is the "dynamic constructivism" which is what he called his artistic programme. He has made light and movement an integral part of his work, thus stimulating a new form of perception.

kinetic art, object, painting, graphics, architecture, constructivism, op art, show in map


From 1951 to 1956, during his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, under professors Ladislav Čemický, Bedřich Hoffstädter and Dezider Milly, he familiarized himself with a painting technique through which he tried to capture the metamorphoses of light qualities in a picture caused by physical phenomena (such as heavy rain, wind). He created tens of canvases with motifs of old Bratislava and its historical sites, as well as various streets around Rybné Square, famous for its markets and vivid atmosphere. He captured fleeting moments of light in the impressionist spirit, even aiming for an analysis and decomposition of individual forms. He became increasingly interested in their modification, including the colour range. Gradually, he came to an abstract styling with dominant tones of blue (his so called blue period). His study trips to London, New York, Paris and Vienna stimulated his efforts to produce more experimental artwork.


Výstava absolventov VŠVU (group exhibition, Bratislava)



He started to create monumental works projecting movement principles based on a new visual perspective. He also worked on smaller pieces (Transparent Reliefs, Islands, 1959) in which he looked for adequate possibilities of technological expression to the same extent as with the large formats. He was captivated by the unique qualities of artificial resin (plasticity, transparency and the possibilities of colour toning). Later he embedded in the resin various metal objects that adumbrated the role of a circle, hemisphere or a disc in his later work. He showed his optical-light programme, in which he examined light and movement in visual and kinetic drawings based on the positive-negative principle and the rapid alternation of black and white, thus capturing phases of movement (Centrálna príťažlivosť / Central Attraction, 1962). By variating individual segments of a circle he created an optical play of pure plastic forms benefiting from breaking the established regularity. He started to apply the reflection of movement in constructivist reliefs made of optical glass and other static and kinetic objects, working with light reflections or containing sources of light. Eventually, he created a number of mobile objects which produced light and dynamic structures. For example his Malý pulzujúci rytmus / Small Pulsing Rhythm (1960) works on the principle of a changing environment as a result of the rhythmical movement of small concave (hollow) mirrors. Pulzujúci rytmus / Pulsing Rhythm (1962) was also based on the principle of constructivist arrangement and fully shows the artist's technique of working with light and movement. It is made of a system of concave mirrors with a centrally located source of light with a moving steel plate at the front. Their synergy results in changing images that reflect the surrounding space. Another of his visual and light objects is represented by the so called lighthouses, with a centrally located concave relief and a light source at its centre. In contrast to pulsing rhythms and their strong light reflections, these are created with a subdued glow resembling molten metal which differs depending on the chosen colour. In spite of their technical complexity, these objects hold high aesthetic qualities in the way they affect an observer. This may be demonstrated by Vertikálne premeny štvorcov / Vertical Metamorphoses of Squares (1964), created by a set of diagonally located cubes with one red face which ripples as it turns, and it reflects light specifically based on a particular angle of faces. By working with different types of light (a direct source or a reflection and combination thereof) and movement (static and mobile structure blending) he discovered new possibilities for spatial objects, in which he arranged glass spheres in layers (Krehké reliéfy, Sklenené kubusy / Fragile Reliefs, Glass Cubes 1963). Although they are not a source of light, they reflect the surrounding environment, which includes light, thus demonstrating a principle he used in his drawings. A subject, a viewer, became a prerequisite for the final effect of the object. A viewer that crowns it with his or her movements and through his process of perception.


Mladí výtvarníci Bratislavy (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Výtvarníci Západoslovenského kraja (group exhibition, Bratislava)


The Exhibition of the Youth (group exhibition, Bratislava)



Contemporary Slovak Fine Art (group exhibition, Prague)


Western Slovakian Artists (group exhibition, Bratislava)


The principles of Dobeš's kinetic art were based on technological and design principles that resulted in new visual structures. Their independence from the prevailing models of that time provoked discussions about the legitimacy of art that seemed so distant from any of the current activities in a Slovak art scene unprepared for their arrival. Dobeš's experiments were almost unknown, so his Prague exhibition of kinetic objects at the turn of 1966 was a great surprise. It was the first exhibition of this kind in Czechoslovakia. Udo Kultermann, when visiting the exhibition, appreciated Dobeš's contribution to the development of kinetic art. Dobeš's work was also acknowledged by professionals and lay people at a concurrent exhibition of Czech art Konstruktivní tendence / Constructivist Tendencies, and the exhibition of kinetist Frank J. Malina. Later, Dobeš was invited to a number of foreign shows of constructivist and kinetic art, which placed him among the founders of kinetic art.
Optical relief
Optical relief (mixed media)

The Drawing (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Milan Dobeš: The Visual Objects (solo exhibition, Bratislava)


Interscene (group exhibition, Prague)
Art-Light-Art (group exhibition, Eindhoven)
11 Artists from Czechoslovakia (group exhibition, Augsburg)
Object (group exhibition, Munich)
Milan Dobeš: The Visual and Kinetic Objects (solo exhibition, Prague)


He participated at Konstruktive Tendenzen in Nuremberg, at documenta IV in Kassel and Cinètisme, spectacle, environment in Grenoble. Since that time he was also mentioned in publications by theoreticians Frank Popper and Udo Kultermann.
Constructive Tendencies from Czechoslovakia (group exhibition, Nuremberg)
Sculpture 1968 (group exhibition, Olomouc)
Cinétisme-Spectacle-Environnement (group exhibition, Grenoble)
Documenta 4 (group exhibition, Kassel)
The New Sensitivity. Křižovatka and Guests (group exhibition, Brno)


He participated in the Biennale of Outdoor Sculpture in Montevideo, where he created a monumental sculpture based on a serial arrangement of mobile circular elements in a stable structure. It was moved by wind and there was a constant change of reflected light as the sun's rays hit the revolving gloss and matt surfaces. By the end of the 1960's and later (in the 80's and 90's) he developed visual and optical structures, creating an impression of computer moiré images.
Tendencije 4 / Tendencies 4: Computers and Visual Research (group exhibition, )
Contemporary Tendency in Slovakian Art (group exhibition, Bratislava)
ARS ’69 (group exhibition, Helsinki)
Czechoslovakian Art (group exhibition, Tehran)
I. Biennal de Escultura al Aire Libre (group exhibition, Montevideo)
I. Symposium of Sculpture (group exhibition, Buenos Aires)
X. Bienal de São Paulo (group exhibition, São Paulo)
Constructive Art: Elements and Principles (group exhibition, Nuremberg)
Salon de Mai (group exhibition, Paris)
Contemporary Art in Czechoslovakia/ Arte contemporanea in Cecoslovacchia (group exhibition, Rome)
Accrochage 69, Bilder-Grafik-Plastik-Objekte (group exhibition, Koblenz)


At EXPO '70 in Osaka he presented the principle of an optical game in a complex system of mirror surfaces and lenses, through which spectators watched a reflective colour projection through peep holes in six arms of the object. This brought him to a new phase of his light and kinetic programme, where the object itself is no longer the centre of attention, but only its resultant programme. The cream in this respect was the Kinetická vež pre Polymúzický priestor v Piešťanoch / Kinetic Tower for Polymusical Space in Piešťany (1970). It was a high tower which responded to the strength of the wind and it was part of the light-kinetic programme of Pulzujúci rytmus XXII. / Pulsing Rhythm No. 12, created by using two anti-aircraft searchlights. Their light beams produced an aforethought visual projection in the sky, representing a large light and kinetic environment connecting natural and artificial elements in a homogeneous whole.
The Contemporary Slovakian Art (group exhibition, Prague)
Polymúzický prostor I. (group exhibition, Piešťany)
Kunstmarkt (group exhibition, Cologne)
Escultura Follaje y Ruidos Adoquisición Norglas (group exhibition, Buenos Aires)
Slovakian Art 1945-1970: The Fights and Struggles about the Socialist Art (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Künstler der Galerie (group exhibition, Koblenz)
Expo 1970 (group exhibition, Osaka)
Contemporary Czechoslovakian Graphic (group exhibition, )
The 1st Open Studio (group exhibition, Bratislava)


He presented light and kinetic performances which were created for musical pieces by Toshiro Mayuzumi (Concerto for Percussion) and Krzysztof Penderecki (Pittsburgh Overture) as part of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra's July concert tour of the U.S.
His art work was not officially acceptable at home, as at the beginning of his career. He created monumental pieces for use in architecture, further developing his structural compositions. He started to work on virtual and kinetic reliefs, analyzing movement of structures. He concentrated on creating optical collages based on blending two linear layers which created moving images together with the movements of a spectator. He was the author of the Dynamický konstruktivismus / Dynamic Constructivism manifesto (1988), which he formulated in close connection with his graphic work. Despite this it can be applied to the principles of his whole art works, which deal with the composition of geometric sections evoking motion. He created structural movements which resembled rotating targets, by the mutual rotation of circular segments and a sphere.
Optical collage
Optical collage (mixed media)

Contemporary Slovak Graphics I (group exhibition, Banská Bystrica )


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Pittsburgh (PA))
Grafica internacionale ‘72 (group exhibition, Brescia)
Wiener Messe (group exhibition, Vienna)
Art in Architecture (group exhibition, Trenčín)
Arte de sistemas II. (group exhibition, Buenos Aires)
Inter-etrennes (group exhibition, Paris)


From the Collection of Jürgen Weichardt (group exhibition, Wilhelmshaven)
Tendencije 5 / Tendencies 5 (group exhibition, )


Exhibition on the 75th birthday of Arnold Bode (group exhibition, Kassel)
Geometrical Tendency in Modern Graphic (group exhibition, Belgrade)


Mezibienále disidentů 77 (group exhibition, Venice)
Slovakian Applied Arts (group exhibition, Vilnius)



(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Brno)


Exhibition of Arts and Crafts (group exhibition, Yerevan)
Metamorphosis of Bratislava (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Exhibition of Applied Arts (group exhibition, Almaty)
Selection of the Contemporary Slovak Art (group exhibition, Bratislava)


Exhibition of Czechoslovak Arts and Crafts (group exhibition, Bratislava)
5th Biennial of European Graphic (group exhibition, Heidelberg)
Salon '88 (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Tendencies and Present (group exhibition, Viechtach)
In Memoriam Lajos Kassák (group exhibition, Budapest)
International Art Fair (group exhibition, Basel)


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Prague)
(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Zurich)
20 Years of Slovak Graphic (group exhibition, Banská Bystrica )
Contemporary Slovak Graphics X (group exhibition, Banská Bystrica )
Slovak Fine Arts (group exhibition, Fribourg)


In the 1990's he started to work with formed mirror foil that enabled him to achieve efficient optical play. Through its curvature he reflected and deformed a geometric line as the most simple geometric element.
(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Vienna)
"Struktury" (group exhibition, Zurich)
Slovak Fine Arts and Music (group exhibition, Bratislava)
New Paths of Drawings and Graphics (group exhibition, Prague)
"STEP LINK" (group exhibition, Brno)
Milan Dobeš: The Dynamic Constructivism. The Optical Collages and Graphics (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
90 Authors in the Year 1990 (group exhibition, Prague)
Constructive Tendencies of 60th (group exhibition, )


Vianoce v Umeleckej besede slovenskej (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Dream about Museum (group exhibition, Žilina)
Slovak Fine Arts and Music (group exhibition, Dunajská Streda )
Different Geometry (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Contemporary Slovak Fine Art (group exhibition, Bardejov)
Hýbače (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Členská výstava sdružení Q (group exhibition, )
Different Geometry (group exhibition, Prague)
Hybače: kinetické variabilní umění (group exhibition, Prague)


Kassák – Hommage á Lajos Kassak 100 (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Sign the Way/Contemporary Slovakian Art (group exhibition, Cologne)
Expo 1992 (group exhibition, Sevilla)


Between Object and Installation / Contemporary Slovak Art (group exhibition, Dortmund)
Prostor '93, 13. ročník výstavy Socha piešťanských parků (group exhibition, Piešťany)
Geometria viva (Cesty geometrie na Slovensku) (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Power Station T (group exhibition, Poprad)
Poetry of Rationality / Constructive Tendencies in Czech Art of the 60s (group exhibition, Prague)
Milan Dobeš: Graphics (solo exhibition, Banská Bystrica )


Contemporary Slovak Graphics (group exhibition, Budapest)
Zwischen Zeit und Raum I. (Tendenzen Mitteleuropäischer Kunst – in den 60er bis 80er Jahren, Teil I., Konstruktiv) (group exhibition, Cologne)
Rozpamätávanie (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Milan Dobeš: Graphics (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Zwischen Zeit Raum I (group exhibition, Düsseldorf)
Reflection (group exhibition, Prague)
Náš kinetizmus 60. let (group exhibition, Prague)
New Sensitivity (1994, 1995) (group exhibition, )


Přerov and its Artists (group exhibition, Přerov)
Milan Dobeš: The Dynamic Constructivism, Light-Kinetic and Optical Reflective Objects (solo exhibition, Brno)
I. New Zlin Salon (group exhibition, Zlín)
Ears-eyes-soul (group exhibition, Bratislava)


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Nine from Ten – Contemporary Slovak Graphic Artists (group exhibition, Košice)
Slovak Graphic of the 90s (group exhibition, Moscow)
Geography and Geometry (group exhibition, Vienna)
Graphics '96 / Contemporary Slovak Graphic (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Quadrifogli & Forme controla Routine (group exhibition, Brescia)
Hommage à Kassák (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Kassák's Hat 31 +1 Slovak Artists (group exhibition, Budapest)
Milan Dobeš: The Blue Period (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Between Tradition and Experiment. Works on Paper and with Paper in Czech Art 1939-1989 (group exhibition, Olomouc)


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Modern Slovak Graphic (group exhibition, Strasbourg)
Sculpture and Object III. in the streets of the old town (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Euro-Madi (group exhibition, Győr )
Geography and Geometry: Art of Concretists from the Danube (group exhibition, Budapest)
Exhibition from A to Z (group exhibition, Bratislava)


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
20th Century - History of Slovak Visual Arts (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Concrete Art: Concrete Art in 6 Central European Countries from 1945 to These Days (group exhibition, Győr )
Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (group exhibition, Barcelona)


The European Cultural Society Fund established Milan Dobeš Museum in Bratislava.
(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Object - Object: Metamorphoses in Time (group exhibition, Prague)


Milan Dobeš: Graphics (solo exhibition, Nové Zámky)


(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Martin)
(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, )
Filoluce. Da balla a boeti, Da fontana a flavin (group exhibition, Milano)
Prague Biennale 2: Expanded painting / International Contemporary Art (group exhibition, Prague)


Pohyb jako poselství (group exhibition, Prague)
20th Century in Slovak Fine Art (group exhibition, Prague)
Milan Dobeš: Kinetic art (solo exhibition, Prague)
1960 → Present / Slovak Art + Czech Guests (group exhibition, Prague)
Czech and Slovak Fine Art 60s of the 20th century (group exhibition, Trenčín)



(Milan Dobeš) (solo exhibition, Přerov)


Milan Dobeš: Dynamic Constructivism (solo exhibition, Přerov)


Culmination / The Apex of Czech Fine Art (group exhibition, Prague)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2021