Collection Online of Museum Tinguely

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Jean Tinguely



Material / technique: Metal, papier maché, Fasnacht masks, V-belts, wooden wheels, electric motors
Size: 255 x 205 x 270 cm
Inv.Number: 11316
Catalog: Bischofberger 0806
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel, Donation Niki de Saint Phalle

The sculpture “L’Avant-Garde“ alludes to Fasnacht in Basel. In a Fasnacht parade, the “avant-garde” is known as the “Vortrab”, a group of Fasnacht celebrants who walk at the front of the parade and clear the way for the lanterns, pipers, drum major and drummers to follow. Not coincidentally, both the French and the Swiss dialect appellations for this group come from military vocabulary. In this piece, the slow up and down of the masks, most of which Tinguely had worn himself for Fasnacht, echo the leisurely marching of the parade participants and the signature nature of Fasnacht in Basel. Mounted on a wheelworks made of colourful wooden and metal wheels, the masks are affixed to metal rods of varying heights. Bucking and jerking, they take turns rising above the machine, seeming, just like good “Vortrüppler” (or avant-gardists!), to be getting an overview of their surroundings and the route ahead. At the latest when he encountered his friends amongst the “Kuttlebutzers“ in 1972, Fasnacht became a fixed part of Tinguely’s yearly planning. He designed costumes and masks, painted them, had ideas for whole parades and took part enthusiastically in the Fasnacht festivities. This popular celebration seems to have fit his anarchic nature in some way, and, with its latent melancholy, his penchant for the morbid. Here he could live out his delight in decor and ornament to the fullest and also, at least for three days and in a halfway orderly framework, his love of revolution.

Pictures in our Collection

The following applies for uses of pictures in relation to our collection:
Museum Tinguely does not own any copyright in works by Jean Tinguely or other artists in the collection. The clarification of these rights and payment in respect of them is a matter for the applicant. In Switzerland, the collecting society responsible for this is ProLitteris, Zurich (link website: Museum Tinguely undertakes no liability for third party claims arising from infringement of copyright and personality rights.

Collection of Museum Tinguely

Works and work groups belonging to all phases of Jean Tinguely’s career are to be found in the museum's collection. Along with selected temporary loans, they afford the visitor an extensive view of the artist’s career. Apart from sculptures, the collection furthermore comprises a large number of drawings and letter-drawings, documents, exhibition posters, catalogues and documentation such as photographs. In the measure of the possible all the exhibits are accessible to the public and regularly shown, be it in the permanent collection or as loans to exhibitions worldwide.

The museum’s collections are the result of a generous donation by the artist’s widow, Niki de Saint Phalle, made on the occasion of its foundation, a donation of works from the Roche collection, as well as several other gifts and acquisitions.

>> Biography of Jean Tinguely

>> History of the collection