Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen considers his monumental strandbeest sculptures (“beach animal,” in Dutch) a form of artificial life. Using PVC, Jansen designs his kinetic sculptures to move or “walk” when propelled by the wind. Jansen studied physics at Delft University of Technology from 1968 to 1975. In the 1980s, he designed a flying saucer and, in 1982, a self-directed painting machine. Jansen began making the “Strandbeests” in the 1990s as a solution to rising sea levels, envisioning sculptures that could move grains of sand from the bottom to the top of the beach. His hybrid creatures have gradually evolved in complexity, resembling animals such as insects, fish, and caterpillars. Jansen’s solo shows include presentations at the Palais de Tokyo (2015) and Frankfurter Kunstverein (2019). He received the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award (2016) and The Hague Cultural Prize (2018).