• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5396

    Post War & Contemporary Art

    11 December 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 456

    Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)

    Untitled

    Price Realised  

    Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
    Untitled
    silver trophy, various memorabilia, car parts and tools, iron, model car, electric motor, wood, cement and wiring
    48 x 23in. (122 x 58.5cm.)
    Executed circa 1980-1982


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    Provenance

    A gift from the artist to the present owner.


    Post Lot Text

    For Jean Tinguely, one of Switzerland's greatest sculptors, making art was clearly a matter of life and death. Throughout his life, Tinguely was fascinated by speed as the most extreme form of motion, for him speed was something that contained and balanced life and death 'Be static with motion' was his interpretation of the challenge of achieving both individual freedom and social change.
    Tinguely's sculptural practice began in the 1950s when his creations began to take on the form of machines. His approach, most closely associated with the anti-art theories of Dadaism, involved constructing mischievous works that satirized the mindless overproduction of material goods in advanced industrial society.
    Untitled, from the early 80s, Tinguely incorporates his well-known passion for automobile racing and admiration for car mechanics, tools sprout from a triumphantly polished trophy. A fan belt, piston, horn, wheels, speedometer, nuts, bolts and St. Christopher badge are welded together and powered by an alternator. Revealing his impish humour Tinguely whimsically includes a model car and miniature driving helmet, crowning the work with a Maserati triton. Thought the mood is light there is a somber undertow, through the use of the dismantled car parts the work also has the quality of memento mori, this push and pull, between light and dark, both motion and destruction are crucial to his practice.