Frankfurt am Main

The first exhibition in the Frankfurt region to feature works by Jean Tinguely began on the eve of the opening of Documenta 2 in Kassel: Dynamo 1 was curated by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene and was held at the Galerie Renate Boukes in Wiesbaden from 10 July to 7 August 1959. The eleven participating artists were Pol Bury, Oskar Holweck, Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, Piero Manzoni, Almir Mavignier, Herbert Oehm, Otto Piene, Dieter Roth, Jesùs Rafael Soto and Jean Tinguely, all of whom had ties to ZERO. Daniel Spoerri was also on the list, but had to withdraw at the last minute because his machine (probably a version of the Auto-Theatre previously deployed in Düsseldorf) was not yet finished. Piero Manzoni, who had visited Düsseldorf in early July, was spontaneously invited to take his place. Thus the relatively small Galerie Boukes hosted one of the first international shows of the ZERO network in Germany and was influenced as much by the contacts of the curators Mack and Piene as by the experience they had already garnered at events like the Vision in Motion exhibition in Antwerp held earlier that year.

July and August 1963 saw a new exhibition open at the Schwanenhalle, a large hall inside Frankfurt’s famous medieval town hall, the Römer; this was called simply Europäische Avantgarde and was organized by Galerie D, the successor of Galerie dato, which won acclaim for its shows of avant-garde artists. The key players at this event were the artist Hermann Goepfert, the gallery owner and journalist Rochus Kowallek, and the art critic and psychologist William E. Simmat, who together ran the Vereinigung für moderne bildende Kunst e.V. and operated under the name Galerie D. The exhibition was a remarkably wide-ranging overview of contemporary avant-garde art from Europe and brought together nearly fifty artists – among them Jean Tinguely – from all corners of the continent and from groups as diverse as the Neue europäische Schule, Arte programmata, Neue Tendenzen, Anti-Peinture and ZERO.

Tinguely’s first museum exhibition in Frankfurt, Tinguely – Luginbühl, opened at the Städtische Galerie im Städel on 13 May 1979. The poster was blazoned with Tinguely’s Klamauk, a locomotive sculpture mounted on a Bührer tractor, which during the exhibition was driven around the Städel. Commenting on the exhibition opening in his diary of 12 May 1979, Bernhard Luginbühl wrote: ‘the opening Saturday got really convivial when another three kilos of meat were hacked off and tossed into the sizzling pan and JT and I had a grand old time at the Städel, trying to do what the Frankfurters do and drink apple wine while chomping on plump briny pretzels. We were celebrating our finest exhibition to date, which for once is to be a long one. We can leave our objects there for half a year, so no returns before then. I can even leave my fat Skarabäus and all the outdoor figures in Frankfurt for a whole year.’

Image credits: Jean Tinguely during the installation of his exhibition at the Städel, Frankfurt am Main, 1979 © photo: Nachlass Leonardo Bezzola