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ART SEEN - Tinguely's machines

Mid Morning Mix// ART SEEN // Art & Culture // March 29, 2017

Poetry in Motion - The sculptural work of Swiss icon Jean Tinguely

Review by Uli Van Neyghem

Rather than the hushed atmosphere found in some other museums and art exhibitions, the Tinguely rattles and bangs, squeaks, thumps and splashes. 

In Jean Tinguely's sometimes colourful sculptures, fountains and installations, the components move and rotate. Lamps are flashing, curtains open and close. It is a place that is alive with humour, laughter and wonder and the innocent pleasure of discovery for visitors of all ages. It makes the Tinguely museum an ideal destination for a family excursion, pleasing old and young 'engineers' and art lovers alike.

The museum houses the world's largest collection of works by Jean Tinguely with examples from all his important creative phases: wire sculptures, kinetic reliefs, drawing and music machines, radio and rotating sculptures and naturally the monumental, partially walk-in installations of his later years. The works of art can be put in motion by pressing buttons (with 5 minutes of pause between the "performances" for conservation purposes). 

Drawings, photographs, letters and films complement the exhibition.


About Jean Tingely (1925-1991)

Tinguely  was born in Fribourg and grew up in Basel, but moved to Paris in 1952 with his first wife and Swiss Artist, Eva Aeppli, to pursue his career in Art. Living in bohemian circumstances, with minimal financial means, the couple became members of the Paris avant-garde and met other influential artists of the time, such as Niki de Saint Phalle, who later became his second wife.

He injected new and revolutionary life into the world of 'static' art with his kinetic, moving or even self-destroying works, that attracted the attention of gallerists in New York and other parts of the world. 

While his sculptures overflow with humour, irony and poetry, they are also thought-provoking and full of deeper meaning, highlighting the mindless overproduction of material goods in advanced industrial society.

The collection is housed in a beautiful building overlooking the river Rhine (again designed by famous architect Mario Botta, like the annex of the Friedrich Dürrenmatt Center in Neuchatel, that I visited two weeks ago). Before entering, visitors are greeted by a splashing Tinguely fountain, a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle, as well as changing monumental works by other artists (such as the impressive filigree Cement Truck by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye) in the Solitude Park surrounding the museum.


What else can you find...

Apart from the permanent Tinguely exhibits, the Tinguely museum offers temporary exhibitions, presently (until May 1, 2017) the equally innovative and experimental work of British artist Stephen Cripps.

The practical details

Where: Museum TinguelyPaul Sacher-Anlage, 4002, Basel

Opening hours: Tues - Sun 11:00 - 18:00 (special opening hours on public holidays)

Fees: Adults: CHF 18 (free for under 16s)

Make a day of it: Within the museum itself is the bistro Chez Jeannot, decorated with posters and prints of his work. Not far away is the Braustube, offering authentic Basel atmospheres and food.


Tags: artist, Basel, events, art

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