Norman Victor Tuck was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1945. and grew up in South Florida.
In 1963 he entered the University of Florida where he studied sculpture under Geoffrey Naylor.
After graduation Norman continued on as an artist's assistant to Professor Naylor, helping him with the fabrication of a series of large kinetic works that incorporated slowly moving, motorized aluminum panels.
Geoffrey Naylor, c.1967.
approx. 6 ft. x 10 ft,
mixed media with electric motor.
Under the influence of Professor Naylor, Norman created a series of large kinetic pieces which, like Naylor's work, contained motor driven aluminum panels.
Here the shaped panels turned behind translucent "windows" of brushed polyester resin. In some pieces the internal reflective panels slowly rotated, in others it was the outer translucent structure that actually turned.
Colorfully lit, the pieces took on a radiant glow and found a home at a local "head-shop," The Subterranean Circus, where, under certain conditions, they blended with the psychedelic and Op-Art posters of the period.
8 ft. x 8 ft. x 2 ft.
mixed media with electric motor.
Upon graduation Norman got a mechanics job at an automobile dealership in Gainesville. In late 1967 he left Florida and moved to New York City. Within days he was employed repairing cars at an MG dealership on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Shop Floor, Adams-Mahoney & Co.
429 E. 74th St., NYC
Kinetic sculpture's popularity peaked during the 1960's, culminating in the 1968 exhibition The Machine As Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The metal covered catalog for the exhibition featured a history of kinetic sculpture and an introduction to the works of many contemporary kinetic artists. Norman's work was was greatly influenced by what he saw in his dog-eared copy of the Exhibition Catalog.
As the title of the Exhibition implies, mechanical devices were already becoming outdated by the late 1960s, with Hewlett Packard introducing the first personal computers during the year of the exhibition. Norman Tuck's work retains an element of nostalgia for an earlier, pre-digital, mechanical age.
Cover: The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age
Pontus Hulten, Editor
The Museum of Modern Art - 1968
Another influential publication from this period was the book Arte Povera by Germano Celant. It introduced Norman to works by Walter de Maria, Michelangelo Pisteletto, Maria Mertz, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, and many other artists whose style resonated with Norman's sensibilities.
Cover: Arte Povera
Praeger Publications - 1969
Spinning Drums - 1972
16 ft. x 5 ft. x 4 ft.
mixed media with electric motor
In 1970 Norman left New York to enter an M.F.A. program at the Pennsylvania State University in State College. Here he created a series of large, open, linear kinetic pieces in the minimalist style that became characteristic of later work. As a graduate student he also worked with large format black and white photography and created several small black and white photographic books.
Umbrella - 1971
20 ft. x 14 ft. x 5 ft.
mixed media with electric motor
12 hour cycle
Staff Photo: OK Harris Gallery
Norman - top left.
Norman returned to New York City in 1972, and for the next 15+ years he worked as a gallery assistant in several of the art galleries that were then springing up in the SOHO neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. He helped with monthly installations at OK Harris Gallery and other galleries, painting walls, sanding floors and taking on the other mundane tasks that kept the downtown art machine going.
His gallery work provided a vantage point into the complicated connection between commerce and the visual arts.
Norman's work began to be included in group shows throughout the City, and in 1973 Norman moved into a 2,500 square foot live/work space at 137 Bowery, which he would later share with this friend and fellow gallery worker, the painter, Phil Smith.
In 1974 Ivan Karp offered him a show at the OK Harris Gallery, his first solo exhibition in New York. And so it went, one little show after another for many years. Norman had a second OK Harris exhibition in 1978, after which he undertook 9 months of travel to Europe, North Africa, and, finally, an overland journey to India and Nepal.
At OK Harris - 1974
16 ft. x 10 ft. x 5 ft.
mixed media with electric motor
In 1979 Norman moved his home and studio to 147 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here he became active in an informal "guerrilla" movement of artists that showed their work in a series artist-curated exhibitions that "popped-up" in, then, marginal neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The Monumental Show - poster
1981 - artist unknown
approx. 11" x 17" - offset litho
During the 1970's and 80's Norman held a series of temporary teaching and curatorial positions at Hunter College, The University of Minnesota, and Wake Forest University.
In 1982-83 he served as interim gallery director, supervising the curation and installation of exhibitions at the Wake Forest University Art Gallery in Winston-Salem, NC.
In 1984 a 20-minute VHS video of Norman's artwork was seen by Joe Ansel, an assistant director of the Exploratorium, a "museum of science, art and human perception" in San Francisco. Joe passed the tape along to other science museums, and Norman was soon offered a 12 months residency at the New York Hall of Science. This led to other residencies and Norman's pieces began to be exhibited in science museums, worldwide.
Working on the Exploratorium Clock
AIR Project - 1989
In 1992 the bulk of Norman Tuck's work was gathered together at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem North Carolina for a major retrospective exhibition entitled Mindless Mechanisms.
Mindless Mechanisms Exhibition
1991-1992, View of Gallery #1
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
The Art Machines Exhibition
View of the installation at The Exploratorium.. 1994.
In 1993 Norman and Joe Ansel together organized a new exhibiton of Norman's work which they entitled Art Machines.
Art Machines included works from the very successful 1991-92 Mindless Mechanisms exhibition which Ansel marketed to a network of science museums that were looking for a mechanically reliable installation of interactive physics related artworks that might attract a large and diverse audience.
Art Machines proved to be extremely successful. By the time Art Machines ended its run at the Science Museum of Minnesota in September of 1999 it had traveled to eight different venues where, for a total exhibition time of more than 30 months, it had been enjoyed by tens of thousands of enthusiastic visitors.
The interactive science museum network offered Norman the opportunity of seeing his work delight large audiences of both children and adults. However, for the past 30+ years Norman's sculptures have only rarely been exhibited at the fine arts galleries and museums for which they had been intended.
Norman currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, the sound artist, Brenda Hutchinson.
Many of Norman Tuck's sculptures currently reside in storage in Northern California.
© N.T. 2022
M.F.A. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1972
B.F.A. University of Florida, Gainesville, 1967
1972-86 Part-Time Gallery Worker, Art Transporter, Art Installer, NYC
1978-79 Assistant Professor of Art, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
1982-83 Visiting Director, Fine Arts Gallery, Wake Forest Univ., Winston-Salem, NC.
1984-85 One Year Artist-in-Residence, The New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY
1986-87 Visiting Professor of Art, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.
2021 The Center for New Music Window Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
1999 Art Machines, Science Museum of Minnesota, St Paul, MI.
1998 Art Machines, The Discovery Center of Idaho, Boise, ID.
1996 Art Machines, Inventure Place, Akron, OH.
1994 Art Machines, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA.
Art Machines, Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ.
1993 Art Machines, Technorama Museum, Winterthur, Switzerland.
North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, Durham, NC.
1992 Art Machines, City Gallery of Contemporary Art, Raleigh, NC.
SciWorks, Winston-Salem, N.C.
1991-92 Mindless Mechanisms, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC.
1984 Art Galaxy, New York, NY.
1982 Fashion Moda, Bronx, NY.
1978 Fine Arts Gallery, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.
1977 O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NY.
1974 O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NY.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2015-16 Mechanix, Phaeno Museum, Wolfsburg, Germany.
2009 Automatas, Arte y Mechanica, Parque de las Ciencias, Granada, Spain.
2008 Phantasie Mechanik, Phaeno Museum, Wolfsburg, Germany.
2000 Small Objects for Light and Sound, Sonoma Mus. of Visual Art, Santa Rosa, CA.
1999 Fusion: Art and Science, Wake Forest University, Winston- Salem, NC.
1997 Electricity is Your Friend, Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
Homemade Instrument Day, Lincoln Center, New York, NY.
1996 Natural Phenomena, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA.
1995 Sculpture on the Move, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY.
Universe of Meaning, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro, VT.
Sculpture on the Move, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY.
1993 Experimenta '93, Villa Gualino, Turin, Italy.
1992 Navigation, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA.
Centennial Biennial Invitational, O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NY.
1991 Art from the Exploratorium, Traveling Exhibition, New York, London, Haifa.
1988 Clockwork, List Visual Art Center, M.I.T. Cambridge, MA.
San Francisco Festival, The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC.
1986 Physics, Piezo Electric Gallery, New York, NY.
Two Person Exhibition, Exit Art Gallery, New York, NY.
1984 Labor Intensive Abstraction, The Clock tower Gallery, New York, NY.
Mechanisms, P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY.
The Sound Art Show, The Sculpture Center, New York, NY.
1983 Terminal New York, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Brooklyn, NY.
1982 Williamsburg All Fools Show, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.
1981 The Monumental Show, Gowanus Memorial Art Yard, Brooklyn, NY.
1979 Sound, P.S.1, Long Island City, NY.
1978 Contemporary Artists Series, Rutgers University Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ.
1973 Sculpture 3, Opening of the World Trade Center, New York, NY.
1966 Group Exhibition, The Subterranean Circus, Gainesville, FL.