Collection Online of Museum Tinguely

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Jean Tinguely

Grosse Méta-Maxi-Maxi-Utopia


Material / technique: Scrap iron, wooden wheels, aluminium steps, curtain, carousel horse, pottery vase by Ursi Luginbühl, plastic flowers, garden gnome, electric motor
Size: 730 x 1700 x 700 cm
Inv.Number: 11306
Catalog: Bischofberger 0768
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel, Donation Niki de Saint Phalle

The upcoming retrospective in summer 1987 in Venice inspired Tinguely to create a walk-in “Méta-Harmonie”. He explained in an interview with TV Suisse Romande: “I want to create something comical, something for children to climb and jump on. I want it to turn out well: arresting, cheerful, crazy, like at a country fair. […] There should be entrances, innumerable entrances, exits and passages. You can come from above or below or run through it. […] It is a sculpture, it is already a harmonious, pandemonic Méta-Maxi sculpture, but it must not be conspicuous, and it must be useful. You use it to reach the first floor in different ways; you use it simply to climb up or to do nothing; you use it to go look for something; you use it to live. When something is very large, I want for people to see small things, for example I want to set up a telescope in one place that you look down through, at the tiny artificial garden below, in bonsai style but with water in it, maybe even with a gag by Spoerri. And when you stand below, I want you to look through the latticework and see something, but something that cannot be made out exactly, that you might imagine for a moment is something erotic, but what is it now really? I want everyone to forget that they are in a sculpture, but the main thing for me is that people have fun, that the visitor sees the others he encounters inside. The whole thing is a matter of guiding the visitor in just the right way …” The realisation of the walk-in sculpture to be experienced from all sides, with geraniums planted at the highest level to make visitors feel at home, indicates Tinguely’s tireless search for experiential spaces, his obsessive creative drive to create whole machine worlds that would enter into a challenging, but peaceful and cheerful, coexistence with humans. The artist was disappointed when in Venice no visitors were allowed to enter the giant machine for safety reasons. The purpose and function of the work had not been fulfilled. “It looked nice there in the dark in Klus, in the plant hall, it was evil but very beautiful,“ he emphasised wistfully, “we will do it again somewhere else, when the machine is alone, when it has returned to the North. I am sure I will be able to make it go crazy again.” (1987)

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