1925-1991 Swiss born sculptor on of the first to make kinetic sculpture (moving parts).

The exhibition of some of his pieces have become major art happenings. In some cases they can be very involved, including dozens of motors and gears. When most people see one of his sculptures, their first instinct is to laugh. They are so improbable and Rube Goldbergish. But then comes the moment of truth, when power is applied, or in some cases, a gas powered engine is started. Jean had intentions for what a given sculpture would do. Many times, they did other than the original plan.

In 1951, he hitch hiked to Paris, found an inexpensive place to stay for his wife and himself and stayed for 2 years amid the art community of the city. It was here that he met Daniel Spoerri.

In 1960 he built a large motorized piece, "Homage to New York," which deliberately destroyed itself in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). This is my favorite piece of scupture of all time. He made this piece while associated with EAT (Experiments in Art Technology). As it happened Billy Kluver himself assisted him in it's construction.

His work is in many major museums in US and Europe including the Museum Jean Tinguely Basel is in Basel, Switzerland. He was associated with a group of artists given the name of Nouveau Realism. In that group was Yves Klein and Daniel Spoerri.

Source: Tomkins, Calvin, "The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avante-Guarde", Viking, NY, 1968.

Last Updated 01.20.03

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