Material / technique: Iron, wood, electric motor, all painted black
Size: 174 x 80 x 70 cm
Catalogue raisonné: Bischofberger 0360
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel
In the mid-1960s Jean Tinguely’s work began to evince significant changes. The forms of his new sculptures became more clear-cut and compact. Instead of the chaotic-looking assemblages of the past, he created for a March 1963 exhibition at the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles works that were uniformly painted in matte black.
Tinguely still worked here with “objets trouvés“ and scrap iron, but the coat of black paint has the effect of neutralising their junkyard origins and diverse material qualities.
The elegant black finish gives Tinguely’s works a formal unity, and the movements of his sculptures are also more refined and controlled. Of these developments, the artist said in an interview with Alain Jouffroy in 1966: “The black colour guarantees the formal homogeneity of the machine. It is a return to sculpture – I think – almost to conventional sculpture ... in their physical aspect. Of course, the movement they continually create anew remains a phenomenon that is not as classic as the sculpture ...”
In the latter half of the 1960s, clearly defined black circles and spirals come together to form machine sculptures whose silhouettes are effectively dissolved by their rapid movements before a white ground into virtual volumes. The visual irritation and the resulting appeal of these works are deliberately intended by the artist in works such as “Spirale (Rörelse)” or “Santana”.