Material / technique: black wooden box with seven rectangular, white-painted metal elements/ interior: wooden wheels, rubber belts, metal rods and electric motor
Size: 61 x 50 x 20 cm
Catalog: Bischofberger 0005
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel
In 1954 Tinguely created a group of works for exhibitions in Paris and Milan that are today subsumed under the heading “Méta-Malevitch”. These are reliefs made of square or rectangular wooden boxes in front of which metal elements in basic geometric shapes such as line and circle in pure white (or in a few cases glowing red) seem to float.
These floating forms are mounted on fine wires that are connected behind the “picture surface” with wooden or metal wheels of various sizes. When these wheels are set in motion by drive belts connecting them with a likewise hidden motor, a continual series of new constellations appear on the “picture surface“. Tinguely further enhances the effect thus created by ensuring that the pivot point is not in the middle for all lines and that the wheels have different diameters, making the elements rotate at various speeds. This furthermore prevents simple symmetrical constellations from being produced after a certain amount of time, or, as Tinguely once gushed to a viewer of his works: “It would take at least 10,000 years for this extraordinary new machine to repeat before our eyes the same composition.”
Sketch of the functions and movements of the Méta-Malevich
black ink on paper
13,6 x 21 cm
Museum Tinguely, Basel
The Méta-Malevich reliefs, a series of over 20 works, were executed in 1954 and 1955. Tinguely viewed them as his homage to Kasimir Malevich, the Russian Constructivist, whose static compositions he set into motion in his reliefs so that continually new constellations are created. Accident plays a major role in the details here, because the elements rotate at different speeds and thus yield an ongoing series of new compositions. Each image is new and virtually unrepeatable.
Skizze von Funktionen and Bewegungen der Méta-Malevitch
Schwarze Tinte auf Papier
13,5 x 21 cm
Museum Tinguely, Basel
The young art historian Pontus Hulten, a close friend of Tinguely’s from 1954, suggested the generic term “Méta-mécaniques“ for Tinguely’s constructions, as the broad spectrum of meanings that can be read into the Greek prefix ”méta“ – which can signify “together with“, “after” or even “beyond” – seemed suitable for indicating the mutability of the works. Tinguely enthusiastically took up this suggestion and from then on named his work groups after the artist from whom he had derived formal inspiration, tacking on “meta” in front: “Méta-Kandinsky“, “Méta-Herbin“, “Méta-Mortensen” or “Méta-Malevich”.