Visiting an exhibition of Jean Tinguely’s art is not a passive experience. Characterised by sound movement and confronting construction it both fills the space it inhabits, and draws the observer in.
Twenty-five years after the artist’s death, Tinguely’s work are being presented in Germany for the first time. Under the banner, Super Meta Maxi, Museum Kunstpalast’s has more than 90 pieces of TInguely’s work on display in an interactive exhibition of sculptures that you walk around, under and through. And as in the case of his seminal piece – Meta Maxi Maxi Utopia – you have permission to climb up, on and over.
|Jean Tinguely Great Méta-Maxi-Maxi Utopia 1987|
Born in Switzerland in 1925, Tinguely began his career as a freelance decorator and artist. Initially embracing the use of wire to sculpt dynamic pieces, Tinguely’s art expanded to incorporate machines that brought motion and sound to his work. Termed kinetic art, some of these pieces grew to such a size that individual sculptures required an entire room in which to be displayed.
|Jean Tinguely Mengele-Totentanz 1986|
Over the course of his career, Tinguely’s exhibitions became known in equal part for the dramatic pieces on display and for the spectacle that surrounded their presentation including a self destructive installation that ultimately went up in flames, and a collaborative work with his wife, sculptor Niki de Phalle, of a giant woman’s body that visitors could walk inside. Both were indicative of Tinguely’s capacity to create colourful, playful pieces that also explored deeper themes of identity, aggression and fear.
|Jean Tinguely at the zoo in Krefeld 1987|
Photo: AFORK Düsseldorf Leonardo Bezzola
While the Meta Maxi exhibition at Museum Kuntspalast is unlikely to end in flames, controversy or arrest, it is nonetheless a wonderful exhibition that will have you searching out the source of sounds of crashing metal and grinding wheels or following the scent of burning beams down darkened tunnels. Make sure to seek out the superbly presented installation Mengele Totentanz – situated in a room off the one housing Meta Maxi Maxi Utopia. This is a profound and haunting piece that will stay with you long after you leave the exhibition.