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Jean Tinguely

Relief méta-mécanique sonore II

Relief méta-mécanique

Material / technique: Black wooden panel with 17 variously shaped, white-painted cardboard elements, metal rods and wires, 2 bottles, 1 funnel, 1 saw, 2 cans, 5 220V electric motors
Size: 73 x 360 x 48 cm
Inv.Number: 11104
Catalog: Bischofberger 0038
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel

Tinguely was very aware of the noises made by machines. He soon incorporated striking mechanisms and other noise sources into his works in order to deliberately create certain tones and thus augment his reliefs with accompanying worlds of sound. The sequence of tones is never the same twice, giving rise to continually new “melodies“ and “rhythms“ – but the tones generated are characteristic enough to give each work an unmistakable tonal identity. Tinguely’s two major early sound reliefs were both executed in 1955. He created the “Relief méta-mécanique sonore I” for the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the “Relief méta-mécanique sonore II” in October of the same year for his exhibition at the Samlaren Gallery in Stockholm. In formal terms, “Relief méta-mécanique sonore I and II” are related to the “Eléments détachés” as well as to the “Moulins à prière”. But the “Reliefs sonores” also differ markedly from these other works in certain features: the artist has discreetly incorporated cans, funnels, glasses and bottles, adding real objects to the works’ abstract elements. This procedure can be traced to one of the decisive innovations of the art of the early 20th century: Picasso was the first to insert everyday objects into his cubist sculptures between 1912 and 1914. As early as his “Eléments détachés”, Tinguely had also broken through the level of relief to interweave the viewer’s space with that of the abstract composition. This effect is enhanced further in the “Reliefs sonores” through the introduction of real objects and sounds. Since the viewer can’t at first see the objects and doesn’t know exactly where the next tone will come from, his eye always lags behind the acoustic event, reversing the traditional hierarchy of eye and ear. Several years before the “invention“ of Nouveau Réalisme, Tinguely thus created a realistic art that unfolds only in the present moment, in the experience of the viewer, and thus departs substantially from the timelessness of abstract art.

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