in Antwerp

Jean Tinguely had taken part in Antwerp’s Biennale voor Beelhouwdkunst as early as 1957, yet it was a show held two years later that was of greater relevance to his career. This was Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision at the Hessenhuis, a venue of the artist group G58. Among the young artists belonging to G58 were Jeff Verheyen, Walter Leblanc, Paul Van Hoeydonck and many more, most of whom knew each other from academy days, but now subscribed to a new, more modern style of art. Many of them felt an affiliation with Zero or related groups, while at least as many others worked in a more lyrical or geometric, abstract style. With 1300 square metres of exhibition space, the Hessenhuis was certainly large enough – even if the ‘center for contemporary artistic expression’ was housed under the exposed beams of the roof truss – and the young artists knew how to make good use of it. The years 1959 to 1962 saw the Hessenhuis hosting group and solo shows of avant-garde art not just from Belgium but from all over Europe.

In einer Gaststätte: teilnehmende Künstler der Ausstellung «Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision» im Hessenhuis. © bpk / Charles Wilp

In a restaurant: participating artists in the exhibition «Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision» im Hessenhuis. © bpk / Charles Wilp

One such exhibition was Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision organized by several artists, including Paul Van Hoeydonck, Pol Bury, Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri. Van Hoeydonck and Bury had originally planned to stage an exhibition about movement to be called De Beweging. But the input of the two Swiss involved, Tinguely and Spoerri, nudged the concept in the direction of a more open show that would embrace performance art, too. Thus it became the first major exhibition of a burgeoning new artists’ network that brought together Mack, Piene and Uecker from Düsseldorf, Yves Klein and Jesùs Rafael Soto from Paris, and Bruno Munari, Dieter Roth, Robert Breer and Emmett Williams, who teamed up on the production of Daniel Spoerri’s Auto-Theatre.

The exhibition derived its distinctive look from the fact that the works were hung in space under the roof of the Hessenhuis. The event turned out to be an important staging post for most of the artists involved. It was most definitely a milestone for Tinguely, who besides exhibiting also had a hand in the planning and above all the selection of the artists who were to take part.

Antwerp remained a relevant destination for Tinguely even after Vision in Motion, and his works featured in group exhibitions at the avant-garde gallery Wide White Space (in its opening year, 1966) and at Ad Libitum (1969).

Image credits: Jean Tinguely and a little girl in the exhibition Vision in Motion - Motion in Vision at the Hessenhuis, 1959, Antwerp © bpk / Charles Wilp