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Jean Tinguely

Machine à dessiner No. 3

Relief Méta-mécaniqu

Material / technique: Black-painted wooden panel, rotating metal disc, wire/ reverse: 3 wooden wheels, rubber belts, 2 electric motors
Size: 54.5 x 106 x 33 cm
Inv.Number: 11108
Catalog: Bischofberger 0053
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel

In 1955 Tinguely created three “Machines à dessiner“ with which he tried for the first time to produce mechanical drawings. This drawing apparatus debuted in April 1955 at Galerie Denise René in Paris in the exhibition Le Mouvement, a survey of kinetic art up to that time. Works by various artists and generations were shown: the “forefathers” of movement in art were commemorated with works by Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder, while Victor Vasarély represented the “older” generation. Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Robert Jacobsen, Jesús Rafael Soto and Jean Tinguely were the “young” artists. Amongst the works by Tinguely in the exhibition were two of his “Machines à dessiner“, which Pontus Hulten referred to in his text on the retrospective as “les œuvres les plus remarquables, mais moins remarquées de l’exposition”, i.e. as the most noteworthy and yet least remarked-upon artworks in the show. Similar to the “Méta-matics“ that would come four years later, the “Machines à dessiner“ are not artworks themselves but rather produce artworks, namely drawings that the machine-driven arm equipped with a pen applies to a sheet of paper affixed to a rotating disc. What is noteworthy about them is that the viewer operates these “Robots créant dessins et musique concrète“ and hence prescribes the vital parameters for the resulting drawing. In conjunction with the machine’s inventor – Jean Tinguely – and the machine itself as the organ that physically executes the work, the viewer therefore takes on the role of co-creator and co-artist, becoming a participant in the creative act and in the emergence of an (abstract) drawing. Actively involving the formerly passive recipient of retinal stimulus is the credo that Tinguely now tossed into the ring he shared with his kinetic colleagues.

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

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