A quarter-century after the opening of Museum Tinguely on the banks of the Rhine in Basel, the new permanent exhibition (opening March 2021) will focus on the charismatic artist Jean Tinguely and the media impact of his kinetic sculptures and actions. The new exhibition draws to an unprecedented degree on the museum’s unique collection of documents and archive materials.
Works from the Museum’s extensive collection are complemented by major loans. In this way the exhibition explores the beginning of Tinguely’s career abroad, followed by his first appearances in Switzerland. The show places documents on paper, photographs, sound and film recordings in a new media context. Tinguely’s work of the 1950s and ‘60s, presented in exhibitions and actions from Paris to New York, via Bern, Lausanne and Tokyo, is multi-facetted and defies previous art-historical conventions. Provocative and amusing in equal measure, it declares life to be art. His works invite us to participate directly, always addressing multiple sensory levels of art experience.
The exhibition also offers information on the materiality and functioning of Tinguely’s works, providing interesting insights into their construction, as well as surprising hidden technical details concerning their conservation: which measures must be taken to keep Tinguely’s works running as long as possible? The information on offer includes recent findings concerning the radio sculptures of the 1960s, and approaches to restoring such fragile works as Ballet des pauvres (1961) or the Balubas (from 1961). And what actually happens to the ephemeral materials used by Tinguely to make his collages, such as nail varnish, stickers or transfers?