Jean Tinguely

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Jean Tinguely
Tinguely by Wolleh.jpg
Jean Tinguely portrait by Lothar Wolleh
Born (1925-05-22)22 May 1925
Fribourg, Switzerland
Died 30 August 1991(1991-08-30) (aged 66)
Bern, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Known for Painting, Sculpture
The Tinguely Fountain in front of the Tinguely Museum in Basel
Tinguely's Heureka in Zürich-Seefeld (Zürichhorn)

Jean Tinguely (22 May 1925 – 30 August 1991) was a Swiss painter and sculptor. He is best known for his sculptural machines or kinetic art, in the Dada tradition; known officially as metamechanics. Tinguely's art satirized the mindless overproduction of material goods in advanced industrial society.


Tinguely grew up in Basel, but moved to France in 1952 with his first wife Swiss artist Eva Aeppli,[1] to pursue a career in art. He belonged to the Parisian avantgarde in the mid-twentieth century and was one of the artists who signed the New Realist's manifesto (Nouveau réalisme) in 1960.

His best-known work, a self-destroying sculpture titled Homage to New York (1960), only partially self-destructed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, although his later work, Study for an End of the World No. 2 (1962), detonated successfully in front of an audience gathered in the desert outside Las Vegas.

Tinguely married fellow Swiss artist Eva Aeppli in 1951. In 1971, Tinguely married his second wife, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Public works[edit]

Noise music recordings[edit]

  • 1963 ‘Sounds of Sculpture’, 7”, Minami Gallery, Tokyo, Japan_[Tinguely’s sculptures recorded by avant-garde composer Toshi Ichiyanagi during Japanese exhibition]
  • 1972 ‘Méta’, book+7_, Propyläen Verlag, Stockholm
  • 1983 ‘‘Sculptures at The Tate Gallery, 1982_, Audio Arts cassette
  • 1983 ‘Meta-Harmonie H’ incl. in ‘Meridians 2_ compmqenan ate a pie
  • 2001 ‘Relief Meta-Mechanique Sonore I’ incl. in ‘A Diagnosis’ compilation, Revolver-Archiv Für Aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Influence on others[edit]

In Arthur Penn's Mickey One (1965) the mime-like Artist (Kamatari Fujiwara) with his self-destructive machine is an obvious Tinguely tribute.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Chapter on Tinguely in Calvin Tomkins' The Bride and Her Bachelors.
  • K. G. Pontus Hultén; Author of Jean Tinguely "Meta" (English translation published in 1975 by New York Graphic Society Ltd., Boston) Large hard cover, 519 Illustrations. Translated from German by Mary Whittall. Original German version published 1972.


  1. ^ Leu, Aia. The Art of the Leu Family, SeedPress, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9551109-2-4. (p. 13).

External links[edit]