Jean Tinguely (1925–1991) is famous for his playful, boldly kinetic machines and explosive performances. With over a hundred machine sculptures paired with films, photos, drawings and archive materials, this retrospective will be the largest-ever collection of the artist’s work to be displayed in a Dutch museum.
Opening on 1 October 2016, precisely twenty-five years after the artist’s death, the exhibition will represent a chronological and thematic journey of Tinguely’s artistic development and ideas - from his love of absurd play to his fascination for destruction and ephemerality.
The collection includes his early wire sculptures and reliefs in which Tinguely imitated and animated the abstract paintings of artists such as Malevich, Miró, and Klee, the interactive drawing machines and wild dancing installations constructed from salvaged metal, waste materials, and discarded clothing, and his streamlined, military-looking black sculptures.
Tinguely’s self-destructive performances are a special feature of the Stedelijk exhibition. The enormous installations Tinguely created between 1960–1970 were designed to spectacularly disintegrate in a barrage of sound. The retrospective also spotlights the exhibitions Tinguely organised at the Stedelijk, Bewogen Beweging (1961) and Dylaby (1962), and the gigantic sculptures he later produced. The journey ends with a dramatic grand finale: the remarkable, room-filling installation Mengele-Totentanz (1986), a disturbing display of light and shadow never previously displayed in the Netherlands.
Jean Tinguely created his work as a rejection of the static, conventional art world; he sought to emphasise play and experiment. For Tinguely, art was not about standing in a sterile white space, distantly gazing at a silent painting. He produced kinetic sculptures to set art and art history in motion, in works that animated the boundary between art and life. With his do-it-yourself drawing machines, Tinguely critiqued the role of the artist and the elitist position of art in society. He renounced the unicity of “the artist’s hand” by encouraging visitors to produce work themselves.
Jean Tinguely, Stedelijk Museum, 1 October 2016 – 5 March 2017
Jean Tinguely en Niki de Saint Phalle, Le Cyclop - La Tête, 1970. Collectie Museum Tinguely Basel, a cultural commitment of Roche, schenking Niki de Saint Phalle. Photo: Christian Baur, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam, 2016.