Anna McNay

Review of Jean Tinguely: Machine Spectacle at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam


Jean Tinguely:
Machine Spectacle

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1 October 2016 – 5 March 2017

“I wanted something ephemeral, that
would pass like a falling star and, most importantly, that would be impossible
for museums to reabsorb,” said Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925-91), best known
for his kinetic sculptures or metamechanics, of his equally famous
self-destructing installations. “I didn’t want it to be
‘museumised’.” It is a moot point then, that, to mark the 25th anniversary of
his death, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, where Tinguely co-curated two
seminal exhibitions in the early 60s, should (a) be hosting such a
comprehensive retrospective and (b) be showing 166 works, 62 of which are
machine sculptures, and only 42 of which are, intermittently, functioning. Would
an artist who so railed against the white cube walls of formal galleries – “The
more immaculate the gallery was and the larger and whiter the museum, the more
repulsive were some of the machines I turned up with” – really have wanted his
life presenting in such a documented manner, with drawings, photographs,
letters, newspaper cuttings, film clips, patent applications, and all sorts of
extensive archival material? What could be a more textbook example of being

Read this review here