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Jean Tinguely

Translation No 1 - pour un triangle


Material / technique: Black metal plate with metal wires, electric motor
Size: 22.5 cm in diameter
Inv.Number: 11119
Catalog: Bischofberger 1101
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel, Schenkung Michael und Joyce Morris, London

In the exhibition Jean Tinguely Méta-mécaniques at Galerie Samlaren in Stockholm from 8 to 22 October 1955, Tinguely presented a few polychrome reliefs, two “Méta-Herbin” sculptures and a kinetic sculpture titled sculpture virtuelle, 2500 tours/min. This last piece is the first trace of a loose series of works that ended in 1960, respectively in 1964, with the “Constantes indéterminées” for Daniel Spoerri’s Edition MAT. In 1955 Jean Tinguely met artist Yves Klein from Nice when the latter’s painting “Expression de l’Univers de la Couleur Mine Orange” was rejected by the jury of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris. The two artists immediately became fast friends, getting into deep conversations about their art. Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely were both interested in an art whose physical form was to be increasingly dematerialised. For Yves Klein, art was first and foremost a spiritual phenomenon that should no longer have to depend on external objectification. Generating virtual volumes was evidently important to both artists. The creation of the first “Constante indéterminée” must be examined before the background of the friendship between the two artists and their lively exchanges. With the “Variations” series he executed between 1958 and 1959, Tinguely continued work on his “Concert pour sept peintures”. These small wall sculptures, which can in most cases be set equally well on a table or pedestal, always function according to the same principle. Wires are screwed onto the axis of an electric motor, which as they rotate hit either each other or further wires affixed to the sculpture, generating irregular but intense plink-plonk sounds. Small elements are attached to the tips of the rotating wires (circles, triangles, spirals), which, as in the “Constantes indéterminées”, describe virtual lines before the base plate as they rotate. As this rotation is constantly interrupted by wires protruding from below, however, no regular shapes can be formed. “The virtual circles constantly change into completely deformed ellipses and shapes reminiscent of Lissajous curves.”

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