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14.09.2010

 

Jean Tinguely's Robot Dreams: come to life - from 9 October at Kunsthaus Graz, Austria

The Museum Tinguely was founded in 1996 to celebrate the centenary of the Roche foundation and as a gift to the inhabitants of Basel. The artist Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely’s widow, supported the project by donating over 50 of his acclaimed machine sculptures.

The space is a playground of his mechanical sculptures, a collection, which revives the fascination of the inner child in all of us. It is like a mad scientist’s secret factory, filled with intriguing pieces that crank into life at the touch of a big red button, flooding the surrounding white walls with mesmerising shadow dances.

Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) is considered to be one of the major contributors to the development of kinetic art. As a member of the Parisian avant-garde in the 1950s and 60s, he stimulated and revolutionised the ‘static’ art world with his kinetic works.

His patchwork like sculptures made of found materials such as animal bones, scrap metal and brightly coloured light bulbs immediately catch the spectator’s eye and bid them to partake in the spectacle, by finally enabling them to indulge in that childhood urge of pushing the big red button, which was so often forbidden.

The act of succumbing to this instinct is rewarded with magical displays of mechanical showmanship, the sculpture grinds into action and often changes one’s initial perception of the previously seemingly static piece. At times dark and wonderful, they truly capture the magnificence of circus and funfair days foregone.

The museum has dedicated a generous gallery space to temporary exhibitions of Tinguley’s fellow artists and contemporaries. Past exhibitions have included Niki de Saint Phalle and Marcel Duchamp. The most recent exhibition was ‘Robot Dreams’ : a collection of robot themed works in keeping with the grand theme of Tinguely’s robotic works.

Highlights of the exhibition included Virgil Widrich’s show reel of famous robot film scenes edited to create a haunting, yet inspirational best-of artificial intelligence moments on the silver screen, Jon Kessler’s ‘Circus’ was a circular installation space, both resembling a circus tent and a military tent, filled with surreal mini kinetic pieces such as Action Man style figures getting dunked in slime, which are then filmed live by tiny cameras and displayed on stacked towers of TV screens. You could even try to spot yourself on one of the screens as a camera tied to a massive white balloon jumped up and down above your head, making for a surreal military experience.

Other exhibited artists include: Kirsty Boyle, Thomas Baumann, Luc Mattenberger and John Bock.

The exhibition catalogue is published by Kehrer Verlag and is available in both English and German editions, with a preface by Peter Pakesch and Roland Wetzel, as well as texts by Isaac Asimov, Wenzel Mracek, Lillian Pfaff, Joachim Schatz and Jutta Weber.

The exhibition is currently en route to Austria's Kunsthaus Graz, where it will be on show from 9 October 2010 to 20 February 2011. Private view is on 8 October!

Museum Tinguely
Paul Sacher-Anlage 2
Basel, Switzerland

Tue – Sun 11:00 – 19:00

Robot Dreams
Co-production with Museum Tinguely
Kunsthaus Graz
Lendkai 1
8020 Graz
Austria

9 October – 20 February 2011
Tue– Sun, 10:00 – 18:00

Private view
8 October 2010
18:00

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely

Museum Tinguely: Robot Dreams and Jean Tinguely