Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
3 More
Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the … Read more Property from the Collection of the Late Niki de Saint Phalle
Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)

Stabilité No. 5

Jean Tinguely (1925-1991)
Stabilité No. 5
signed, titled, inscribed and dated '"stabilité N°5" TINGUELY (1959) 11, impasse ronsin, 15eme' (on the reverse)
wood, five metal elements, wood pulleys, rubber belts, metal fixtures and electric motor
28 ¾ x 44 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (73 x 114 x 20 cm.)
Executed in 1959.
Niki de Saint Phalle, by descent from the artist
Bloum Cardenas, by descent from the above
Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner
C. Bischofberger, Jean Tinguely. Catalogue raisonné, Sculptures et Reliefs 1954-1968, Vol. 1, Zürich, 1982, p. 104, no. 127 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Jean Tinguely. Méta-Reliefs / Méta-Matics, October-November 2012, pp. 33, 73-75 and 85 (illustrated in color).
Düsseldorf, Museum Kunstpalast; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Jean Tinguely, April 2016-March 2017, p. 19, no. 32 (illustrated in color).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5,5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Etienne Sallon
Etienne Sallon

Lot Essay

With its white shards and discs of metal revolving before a dramatic black backdrop, Stabilité No. 5 is an important kinetic work by Jean Tinguely. It was originally gifted by Tinguely to the pioneering feminist artist Niki de Saint Phalle, with whom he shared a passionate creative relationship for more than three decades. An inscription on the reverse locates the work’s creation at “Impasse Ronsin, 15ème”. This unassuming Montparnasse alleyway was home to a vibrant artistic community in the 1950s and 1960s, including Tinguely and Saint Phalle among others such as Yves Klein, Max Ernst, Daniel Spoerri and Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne. The Lalannes’ neighbor was the elderly sculptor Constantin Brâncu?i, who had worked in an atelier here since 1916. It was on Ronsin in 1958 that Tinguely and Klein made their seminal sculpture Excavatrice de lEspace, whose whirring white disc married the monochrome and movement: the two artists’ distinct methods of “dematerializing” their art. It was here, too, that Saint Phalle fired a gun at a painting to create the first of her famous “Shooting Pictures” in 1961. Stabilité No. 5, its ever-changing composition governed by chance as much as by design, exemplifies the radical motorized reliefs that Tinguely made during this exciting period, creating a joyful, freewheeling tableau that perpetually modifies its own image.

The Swiss-born Tinguely had arrived in Paris in 1952, and moved to the Impasse Ronsin with his first wife in 1955. He met Saint Phalle the following year when she and her first husband visited his studio to purchase a relief. By 1960 both had split from their partners, and Saint Phalle joined Tinguely in his Ronsin apartment. They would cohabit intermittently and collaborate closely on artistic projects for over a decade before marrying in 1971. They separated two years later, but remained on good terms and continued to work together until Tinguely’s death in 1991. Fiery, liberated and revolutionary, their relationship epitomized the bohemian spirit of 1960s Paris; like the rest of the Ronsin community, they joined forces in art and life while also working independently, with neither artist’s work overshadowing the other.

Tinguely and Saint Phalle were both associated with the “Nouveaux Réalistes”, a loose Parisian collective centered around Yves Klein. Rather than imitating reality through paint, these artists aimed to incorporate it directly into their art, often using collage or found objects to capture something of the world around them. Their ideas had much in common with the “readymades” of Marcel Duchamp, as well as with the Pop Art that was emerging across the Atlantic. Disregarding the theoretical debates about abstraction that were current in the field of painting, they made art anew, searching for meaning that could be found beyond painting entirely. Tinguely transformed scrap metal and other discarded matter into fantastical, haphazard contraptions—some of them absurdly complex, and made to self-destruct by sawing at themselves or combusting. His moving reliefs, such as Stabilité No. 5, brought together painterly composition and mechanical motion. Made from salvaged elements of the real world, these neo-Dadaist works both emerged from and charted aspects of modern existence, repurposing the machine age’s endless sense of movement as poetic, playful and gleefully pointless.

Some of Tinguely’s earliest kinetic sculptures had been moving reliefs: in his Meta-Malevich works of 1954-55, bars and discs that echoed Malevich’s compositions moved through various orbits and speeds, creating random ballets of Suprematist form. Tinguely set asynchronous gears turning at different rates so that configurations of shape would repeat themselves only at incalculable intervals, if at all. These works paid homage to the Suprematist ethos of pure, geometric color and form while also puncturing its solemnity with their chaotic motion. The lighter, more organic shapes of Stabilité No. 5—resembling fragments of paper spun through the air—display the whimsical, ephemeral emphasis of Tinguely’s own work.

Like Alexander Calder, whose mobiles were a great inspiration to him, Tinguely sought to free art from the rigidity of logic or constructive purpose; like Duchamp, he found magic in playing with chance. Tinguely pointed out that movement was one of life’s only certainties. We are all mortal, with a limited time on earth. What, he asked, is the point of living for tomorrow, when we should focus on today? Forever moving and changing in its captivating dance, Stabilité No. 5 exhorts us to be in the present. This is no fixed monument to a moment in time, but instead a lyrical machine that celebrates each second as it passes.


More from ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century

View All
View All