Day 42/365 of Steel – Jean Tinguely

Yes, using steel can also be great fun!

Jean Tinguely (22/05/1925 – 30/08/1991)

Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle in their studio, photo by Kender Janos (1937-2009) and Shunk Harry (1924-2006)
Fig 1: Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle in their studio,
sphoto by Kender Janos (1937-2009) and Shunk Harry (1924-2006)

Tinguely, who was married to the well-known artist Niki de Saint Phalle, is mainly known for his kinetic works of art. He was part of the Nouveau Réalisme (a French art movement, related to the Pop Art movement). The influence of French Dadaism is clearly perceptible in his work. The main theme of kinetic art is movement in art. Jean Tinguely’s steel installations are set in motion both by motors, the viewer and automatically, for example by the wind. Some of his sculptures, including some self-destructive machines, were destined to undergo change over time.

Jean Tinguely - Heureka - Zürichhorn
Fig 2: Jean Tinguely – Heureka – Zürichhorn
Photo: Micha L. Rieser

His moving and changing machines were an expression of his belief that the essence of both life and art is continuous change, motion, and instability. His useless machines can also be understood as caricatures of and critiques of the mechanical world, the technological system, and the belief in technological progress.

Jean Tinguely Art
Fig 3: Jean Tinguely Art
Photo: Tripadvisor

For Jean Tinguely, his work was also a resistance to the conventional static art (world); he wanted to put play and experimentation first. For him, the visitor no longer had to look at a hushed painting in a sterile white space from a distance. With his kinetic art, he set both art and art history in motion and explored the boundaries between art and life.

Museum Tinguely in Basel
Fig 4: Museum Tinguely in Basel
Photo: Tripadvisor

With his do-it-yourself drawing machines, Tinguely criticised the role of the artist and the elitist position of art in society. He rejected the uniqueness of ‘the hand of the artist’ by allowing visitors to assemble works themselves. 

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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