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Jean Tinguely Biography


Through his kinetic sculptures, Jean Tinguely became a major representative of the art of the second half of the twentieth century. His sculpture focused on machines, whose functions and movements were particularly interesting to him, as well as the noises they generated and the poetry that inhabited them. Born in 1925 in Switzerland, he was the only son in his family and dropped out of school at the age of 14. He studied at the School of Applied Arts of Basel from 1940 to 1945 and first personal exhibition took place in 1954. In 1955, he participated in the exhibition ‘The Movement’, along with Agam and Vasarely, devoted to kinetic art.

In 1960, he co-founded the New Realists movement, according to which the ‘new perceptual approach of the real’ had to go through the machine and the electric motor. In the following years, his machines were perfected and he participated in a series of events from New York to Copenhagen where his machines ‘smoke, exploded, and were self-destructed’. Jean Tinguely is also the inventor of the ‘mechanical happening’. In the 1980s, Jean Tinguely went through a period of psychological instability that vented on his machine-sculptures adding them feather headdresses, blisters, skulls and brakes. He died in 1991 and today he is considered one of the most important sculptors of the twentieth century.

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