Zizz! The life and art of Len Lye, in his own words


by Roger Horrocks

Born in Christchurch in 1901, Len Lye was driven by a lifelong passion for motion and energy, and how to represent them in art. He moved to Sydney and then London, where he exhibited with Frances Hodgkins and Henry Moore, and then to New York, where he became renowned as a film-maker and kinetic sculptor. Today his work is held in the collections of major art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

In 1977, Lye returned to New Zealand for the first local exhibition of his work. Shortly before his death three years later, the Len Lye Foundation was established, and he bequeathed it his work. New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is home to this amazing collection. In July 2015 the city council is opening a stunning, architecturally designed centre devoted to Lye's art and ideas.

Print edition price: NZ $30

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Reviews, interviews, author events

"Mighty congratulations, Roger, it's not possible to put your book down. It's simply marvellous and marks the opening of the Len Lye Centre with a true history. It brings Len right to us, in a fully joyous and unabashed manner. This book will last forever." Max Gimblett

Landfall Online Review of Zizz: Kinetic Experience


"Zizz! [is] a nicely compact volume which burrows into more personal anecdotes than the earlier book. Horrocks had access to Lye's notes, essays and letters" Linda Herrick, NZ HERALD Read the full review here

"Len Lye is the unsung maverick of modern art. His inventive spirit, humour and sensuality left a globally unique legacy." Tessa Laird, NEW ZEALAND LISTENER

"Everything Lye created, from pioneering films to fabulously cool kinetic sculptures that sashay and vibrate to their own self-made music, was a direct reflection of the man himself." Laura Cumming, THE OBSERVER


Listen to Roger Horrocks on RNZ's Standing Room Only programme, talking about Zizz, Auckland Writer's Festival, and being a finalist in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

"Your book has zizz! It's full of energy, not too long, not too short. It has wonderful moments of his life, and the energy that comes off the page from Len Lye is amazing." Andrew Dickens, NEWSTALK ZB

"There's a brilliant new book out, I honestly mean that, it's called 'Zizz! The life and art of Len Lye'. I've got to say the book is beautifully published!" Graeme Hill, RADIOLIVE
Listen to Roger Horrocks discuss the life and art of Len Lye on Radio Live here

"What a crazy, exciting and excited guy." - Kenneth Snelson
"Dancing in a sense is what is the basis of all his art: his films dance, his sculptures dance, and everything is about movement."

A week before the opening of the brand new Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, Roger Horrocks talks Len Lye on Plains FM. You can listen to it here

Product details

ISBN: 978-1-927249-21-5
Pages: 208
Size/Weight: 210x158mm
Published: June 2015
Author(s): Roger Horrocks