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Jean Tinguely

Swiss Sculptor and Painter

Jean Tinguely Photo

Born: May 22, 1925 - Fribourg, Switzerland

Died: August 30, 1991 - Bern, Switzerland

"Currently, my machines are black and sometimes gentle, if not sexy or exuding a contained violence; I finally found the technical means for accomplishing this."

Jean Tinguely Signature

Summary of Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely first began creating assemblages composed of found-objects, but soon thereafter, intrigued by the current debate regarding the effect of mechanization and industrial innovation on modern society, he completely altered these static works by putting them into motion. Tinguely was intrigued by the effect of these moving constructions on the spectator and devoted the rest of his career to its exploration. The resultant oeuvre, on both a small and large scale, in works that generated corollary works of art and those that self-destructed, instigated spectator reaction and forever challenged the concept of a static experience of viewing art.

Key Ideas

Tinguely updated the Dada practice of creating sculptural assemblage composed of found-objects, most often scrap metal that might easily have been considered junk, by actually mechanizing them. The revolutionary step of putting a work of art into motion would become known as Kinetic Art.
Also following the lead of Dada artists, who used various means to make fun of society, Tinguely's mechanized creations were intended to mock the "improvements" of the industrial revolution and modern reliance on technology.
Tinguely challenged the assumption of the artist's monopoly on creation with his metamatics, mechanized assemblages fitted with a drawing stylus chosen by any given spectator. The works of art that resulted were given significance on their own, separate to that of the original construction.
The self-destructing assemblages took the concepts explored in his earlier mechanized sculptures to a new level. Providing an actual spectacle for the viewers, a one-off experience with a defined beginning and end intended not only to be seen but in addition, to evoke their reaction, these assemblages illustrate Tinguely branching out into more interactive art whose effect simulates a performance.
<i>Heureka</i> sculpture on the shores of Lake Zurich by Jean Tinguely in Switzerland

Declaring, "The only stable thing is movement," Jean Tinguely pioneered Kinetic Art. He was also a leader of many other artistic directions in his powerfully prolific, creative life.

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