Art &Technology
- Pop Art - Tinguely

Jean Tinguely was born in Fribourg in Switzerland in 1925. Three years after his birth his family went to Basle, where he spent his youth. As a young man Richard Hamilton worked in advertising and commercial art. In 1955 Jean Tinguely participated in the exhibition "Le Mouvement" in Denise René's gallery in Paris. The exhibition curated by the director of the Swedish "Moderna Museet" J. K. Hultén was an exhibition devoted to movement in art. It presented works by Calder, some of Duchamp's rotating disks and new works by Victor Vasarelly.Tinguely showed reliefs and motorized wire sculptures as well as a his meta-matic robot which walked araound and drew pictures.

Jean Tinguely: Für Statik. 1958

Fig.: Jean Tinguely with one of his meta-matics in Paris

Für Statik/ For Statics

"Everything moves continously. Immobility does not exist. Don't be subject to the influecnce of out-of-date concepts. Forget hours, seconds and minutes. Accept instability. Live in Time. Be static - with movement. For a static of the present movement. Resist the anxious wish to fix the instanteneous, to kill that which is living.

Stop insisting on 'values' which can only break down. Be free, live. Stop painting time. Stop evoking movements and gestures. You are movement and gesture. Stop building cathedrals and pyramids which are doomed to fall into ruin. Live in the present, live once more in Time and by Time - for a wonderful and absolute reality."


(Jean Tinguely, programmatic text for the "Concert for Seven Pictures" in Düsseldorf. 150000 copies of the the text were dropped from a small airplane.)

Another important exhibition was Yves Klein's "Le Vide" exhibition in Paris which took place in the gallery Iris Clert in Paris. Tinguely persuaded Klein that they would have to do a show together and this show, "Pure Speed and Monochrome Stability" was shown in the same gallery a few months later that year.

Jean Tinguely: Homage à New York. 1961

Fig.: Homage à New York.

"Homage à New York" a show in the Museum of Modern Art in New York was probably his most adventorous work of art. When Tinguely came to New York Dr. Richard Huelsenbeck a former Dadaist and now psychiatrist, invited Tinguely to stay in his apartment for three months. Huelsenbeck called Tinguely a "Meta-Dadaist, who fulfilled certain ideas of ours, noteably the idea of motion." He introduced Tinguely, who then spoke almost no English into the New York art scene and arranged meetings of a group of young artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, John Chamberlain and Marcel Duchamp. Even though these friends told him that he would never have a show in the Modern Art Museum and that he should rather rent an empty warehouse or loft, Tinguely persuaded the director Renè d'Harnoncourt to have a show in the museum.

Further Reading:

Calvin Tomkins: Ahead of the Game. Four Versions of Avantgarde. Penguin Books Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England 1968.