Friday 4 November 2016

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 “museumised”?

Read this review here

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