As a teenager, Jean Tinguely created in the forest near Basel, from wood and cans over 100 meters long sound machines which were driven by water with a paddle wheel. A camshaft operates percussion elements whose rhythm changes according to the current.
With regular provocations, Jean Tinguely follows the path that was imposed on him from the beginning: “The essence of my work has always been movement, movement, movement.
He also dabbled “in a desperate way” in abstract painting before concluding with it once and for all by creating his Méta-matics, an automatic drawing machine.
“I question the machine, I create a climate of criticism, of ‘ridiculousness.’ I introduce irony. My machines are ridiculous or they are beautiful, but they are useless. »
His sculptures are total works of art that appealed to several senses at the same time: sight, hearing, touch, and sometimes smell, when smoke came out.
He is a sculptor who breathes life into recycled materials. The objects tirelessly manifest their loud and noisy existence. His magnificent machines are perpetually in motion until their self-destruction. Jean Tinguely created one of the most personal sculptural works of our time.
The origin of his fear of catastrophe and death comes from his youth. He was traumatized as a teenager during the bombing of Basel. A young mother he knew, had her baby in her arms and, while running away in panic, was decapitated by a shell splinter. The impact tore off her head, which was hanging on a wall with her hair. Jean Tinguely took the child from her arms and hid in the ruins, waiting for the enemy.