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date: 23 August 2019

Tinguely, Jean locked

  • Hugh Davies

Extract

(b Fribourg, Switzerland, May 22, 1925; d Bern, Aug 30, 1991). Swiss sculptor. He was active chiefly in or near Paris from 1952. His work is concerned with movement, and he was one of the pioneers of kinetic art in the mid-1950s. Most of his sculptures since 1954 incorporate electric motors and were constructed largely from junk and everyday materials. As a boy, about 1938, he built a percussion machine consisting of about two dozen water-wheels of different sizes, turned by a stream, which caused small hammers to strike tin cans. All his machines have strong personalities, quirky and unpredictable, and often are humorous, sometimes threatening. At first (1954–5) they were operated, like surrealistic clockwork, by handmade wire cog-wheels; these were soon replaced by various types of continuous belt drive, which, from the beginning of his found-object and auto-destructive period in 1960, involved discarded bicycle and pram wheels and, in the larger sculptures, a range of wooden and metal wheels from old industrial machinery....

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