Advanced search
Sans titre

Sans titre, 1967-1975

Jean Tinguely
  • Artist (1925 - 1991)

It was at the age of 12 that Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) started to cobble together small wooden wheels. At the age of 20, he attended the School of Fine Arts in Basel, and became interested in the Bauhaus, Tanguy, Dali and Duchamp. He then moved to Paris in 1953 where he produced his first ironical and absurd mechanical reliefs (Moulins à prières, 1954) and held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Arnaud in Paris. In it, he showed relief-pictures called “automates”, works driven by an internal mechanism (Méta-Malevitch, 1954). Shortly thereafter, in 1956, he met Yves Klein, and in the 1950s, became one of the leading figures in the Paris avant-garde, hotbed of the New Realism founded by Pierre Restany. His work was marked by the ubiquity of scrap metal, and every kind of material and waste. Without any apparent order, he assembled the most diverse of objects, creating kinds of noisy, rattling animated machines, which were usually useless, with the exception of the Meta-matics, machines for producing random drawings and paintings which ironically imitated the gesture of American Abstract Expressionism. Countering the fixed nature of the work of art and the permanent consecration of it by museums, in Hommage à New York (1960) Tinguely caused the self-destroying happening-machine, which he had made with scrap metal and all sorts of objects, to explode.  Tinguely then worked with several artists. In 1968, with Bernhard Luginbühl he embarked on a gigantic work, 22.5 metres/70 feet high, called the Cyclop, in Fontainebleau forest; with his partner Niki de Saint Phalle, he made the Fontaine Stravinsky (1982-83). The artist’s approach is also defined by drawings and engravings: They are an extremely important work instrument in the design of a “machine”, but they can also be executed to imagine many different variations, and to retain the memory of an idea. Several retrospectives of this abundant oeuvre have been organized around the world, and it has fallen to the architect Mario Botta to build a museum specially dedicated to Jean Tinguely.

Nadine Labedade