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Jean Tinguely

"Be free, live and stop “painting” time."


Notes of biography

Jean Tinguely is born in Switzerland (Fribourg) in 1925. At the age of 14, he abandons his secondary studies and enrols in the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Basel in 1940; a pupil of Julia Ris, he will study there until 1945. He then makes a living doing odd jobs until 1953, when he settles in Paris. He works with Spoerri, in the studio of Jean Lurçat.
His first solo exhibition will be mounted in 1954. In 1955, he participates in group exhibitions, then in the exhibition Le mouvement (“Movement”), organized by the Galerie Denise René, a show that celebrates kinetic art (with Agam, Vasarely, etc.). In the same year, he builds the Meta series, machines that paint canvas, parodying abstraction, Tachism and Abstract Expressionism. This parody of painting in no way precludes Tinguely from drawing and painting.
Jean Tinguely becomes a member of the Groupe Espace in 1959 and, in 1960, is co-founder of the New Realist (Nouveau réalisme) movement (Restany, Arman, César, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, etc.). During a trip to the United States, he makes contact with Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
In 1961, Tinguely will play a significant role in the international exhibition Bewogen Beweging (Art in Motion) at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. For the artist, “the new perceptual approach to reality” emerges through the electric motor and the machine. In collaboration with his wife, Niki de Saint-Phalle, he produces numerous works (notably the “Fontaine Stravinsky” near the Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg) and will participate in a series of gigantic “happenings”, from New York to Copenhagen, where his works smoke, explode and self-destruct in a sometimes terrible crash.
In 1967, the Rotozazas appear: sculptures, painted black, that play ball; in 1970, there will be the Chars and the Bascules, sculptures that move, very noisily, along the tracks. Later, feathers, bulbs, skulls and dentures will come to embellish his machines. Many solo exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world will be dedicated to this baroque work, often made of machines with explosive, demented movements.
Jean Tinguely dies in 1991 in Bern (Switzerland).

Artists on display

The art and the artists display: proclamations, galleries, museums, personal or collective exhibitions. On walls or in shop windows, wise or rebels, posters warn, argue, show. Some were specially conceived by an artist for such or such event, other, colder, have only the letter.

Some were created in lithographic technic, most are simple offset reproductions. They are many those who like collecting these rectangles of paper, monochrome or in games of colours, in matt paper or brilliant, with many words or almost dumb.

We are happy also to be able to greet, by this pages, mythical galleries as those of Denise René, Louis Carré, Claude Bernard, Berheim Jeune, Maeght, Pierre Loeb and others.


Complete work(s)

Complete work(s)
All the complete works

Bibliographic track and more

To read about the artist :
  • « Jean Tinguely », Kunsthalle, Bâle, 1972
  • « Jean Tinguely, Méta », Pontus-Hulten, Pierre Horay, Paris, 1973
  • « J T., une magie plus forte que la mort », P. Hultén, Ed. Le Chemin vert, 1987
  • « Jean Tinguely », Centre Beaubourg, Paris, 1988
  • « L'énergétique de l'insolence », Conil-Lacoste, La Différence, Paris, 1989
  • « Jean Tinguely », Pontus Hulten, Ed. du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1992
  • « La fontaine I. Stravinsky », E. Amzallag-Augé, Ed. du Centre Pompidou, 2009
  • « Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely », cat. d'expo., Artrust Ed. Melano, 2015
  • « Jean Tinguely : Torpedo Institut », O. Suter, Ed. Patrick Frey, 2015
  • « Jean Tinguely, rétrospective », K. M., Cabanas et autres, Walther Konig Verlag, 2016
To read from the artist :
  • « L'art est révolte », National Zeitung, Suisse, 1967
  • « Des machines folles qui ne servent à rien », in Archives RTS, 2016
Website :

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Art movements

+ NEW-DADAISM / 1950-1960 / General Idea, Nam June Paik, etc.
+ NEW REALITIES / 1946-1956 / Etienne Béothy, Marcelle Cahn, etc.
+ NEW REALISM / 1960-1970 / Gérard Deschamps, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, etc.
+ ESPACE GROUP / 1951 / Felix Del Marle, Etienne Béothy, etc.
All art movements

See & discover

Beyond works currently in stock, it seemed to me useful to combine business with pleasure by letting you discover others works by artists in my gallery. These artworks, now sold or removed from our website, have been in our stock in the past.

These pages will undoubtedly make it possible for some of you to associate an image with its title or the other way round, for others it will be a good time to discover more on such and such artist. For the sake of confidentiality – the pieces being no longer available – we won't display neither their numbering or their price. For whatever reason, make sure to visit this amazing art database with to date 6441 online works just for your pleasure! Michelle Champetier

See & discover