in Paris

Paris was without doubt the city that was most important to the career of Jean Tinguely. Nowhere else did he have as many solo and group exhibitions as he did in the French capital. It was also in Paris that he had his first, momentous encounters with artists, curators and friends from all over the world. It would scarcely be overstating the case to say that Tinguely would be inconceivable without Paris.

The list of dates and events connecting Tinguely to Paris is therefore very long:
What made that event such a milestone was less the show itself than Tinguely’s first meeting with Pontus Hultén, a curator who would support him his whole life long. The following year Hultén was among the curators of Le Mouvement at the Galerie Denise René, an exhibition that showcased kinetic art and positioned Tinguely at the heart of it. In November 1958 Tinguely and his artist friend Yves Klein had a show at Iris Clert’s gallery called Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome par Yves Klein et Tinguely. The collaborative projects exhibited there were part of the artists’ endeavour to dematerialize art. Just half a year later Iris Clert hosted Méta-Matics, a show of Tinguely’s drawing machines that brought him to the attention of a larger audience.

The year 1960 saw both Le Transport on 13 May, a spontaneously staged relocation of Tinguely’s monumental sculptures from his studio to the gallery where they were to be displayed, and the founding, on 27 October, of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a new group centred on Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Jacques Villéglé and Jean Tinguely. In June 1961 Tinguely together with Niki de Saint Phalle and Robert Rauschenberg performed a spectacle called Variations II – Homage à David Tudor at the American Embassy in Paris, and Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle again worked side by side – along with Martial Raysse – on Roland Petit’s production of the ballet L'Éloge de la Folie at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in 1966. The Machines de Tinguely exhibition at the CNAP (Centre National d’Art Moderne, a predecessor of today’s Musée National d’Art Moderne housed in the Centre Pompidou) in May 1971 was the first of a series of retrospectives that would also be shown in Basel and Amsterdam. Le Crocrodrome de Zig et Puce of 1977 was a collaborative project of Tinguely and Bernhard Luginbühl for the opening of the Centre Georges Pompidou, while his fellow artist for the Fontaine Stravinsky installed next to the Centre in 1983 was again Niki de Saint Phalle.

Tinguely’s intense relationship with Paris ended in 1988 with a major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou and a smaller exhibition at the Galerie de France showcasing the works that he had produced together with Niki de Saint Phalle: Niki de Saint Phalle, stabilisé par Jean Tinguely.

Image credits: Jean Tinguelys Le Transport  from his studio in the Impasse Ronsin to the Galerie des Quatre Saisons, Paris, 13.05.1960, Paris, 13.05.1960 © Photo: Christer Strömholm / Strömholm Estate