Collection Online of Museum Tinguely

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Jean Tinguely



Material / technique: spring, metal rods, wire, feathers, plastic, wood, electric motor, original base painted orange
Size: 162 x 70 x 70 cm
Inv.Number: 11188
Catalog: Bischofberger 0242
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel

Abruptly and without warning, the sculptures begin to shake as if having a convulsion when the 110V Liliput motor is switched on. Their movements are uncoordinated and ecstatic. With each action they verge on self-destruction. Tinguely shows with his “Balubas” just how transient and immaterial art and life really are. The sculptures got their name from the artist’s spontaneous reaction to the political situation in the Congo at the time. He called his works “Baluba“ after the Bantu tribe that, under the leadership of Patrice Lumumba, fought for freedom and independence in the Congo in 1960. The title is meant to convey the artist’s support for Lumumba, who was assassinated in early 1961. The wildly ironic dance performed by the discarded, cast-off found pieces symbolises the tragedy of a struggling nation. “... je les appelais d‘après le nom des ces Noirs formidables qu‘on avait vus et qui portaient des armements bizzares. Ils avaient des boules de Noël sur la tête, des mitrailleuses auxquelles ils accrochaient des grelots - ils essayaient, en quelque sorte, de reprendre à leur compte les armements modernes et dangereux.” (“I called them by the name of those marvellous blacks we have seen carrying bizarre weapons. They have Christmas ornaments on their heads, machine guns from which they hang small bells - as if trying somehow to lay claim to modern and dangerous armaments”) Exuberant high spirits and despair, fascination and disillusionment are conjoined in the “Balubas”.

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