Details & Cataloguing

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi


Jean Tinguely
1925 - 1991
signed and dated 55 on the reverse
painted metal elements on natural wood panel with wooden pulleys, rubber belt, metal fixtures and electric motor
63 x 75 x 21 cm; 24 13/16 x 29 1/2 x 8 1/4 in.
Executed in 1955.
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Private Collection, Switzerland
Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 20 June 2014, Lot 146
Natalie Seroussi, Paris


Stockholm, Galerie Samlaren, Jean Tinguely: Méta-mécanique, 8 - 22 October 1955
Düsseldorf, Museum Kunstpalast, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Jean Tinguely: Super Méta MaxiMachine Spectacle, 23 April 2016 - 4 March 2017; catalogue, p. 25, no. 13, illustrated in colours


Christina Bischofberger, Jean Tinguely. Catalogue raisonné. Sculptures and Reliefs, 1954 - 1968, vol. I, Zurich, 1982, p. 53, no. 61, illustrated

Catalogue Note

When Jean Tinguely arrived in Paris in 1953, the art world was divided into champions of abstract art and figurative art, defenders of lyricism, constructivism, of an informal emerging art and of kinetic art in its early stages. It was in that context that the young, visionary and pioneer artist decided to expand the field of possibilities by setting his works in motion.

Fascinated by mechanics since childhood, Tinguely built his first mobile metallic wire sculptures in 1954. Some are manually activated through simple handles pulling wheels; and others use electric engines hidden behind the frame like Sprit – Bleu, Ocre et Vert, created in 1955 and quickly exhibited in the framework of the exhibition Jean Tinguely, "Méta-Mécaniques" organized the same year at the Samlaren gallery of Stockholm.

In this polychromatic composition, emblematic of the important researches conducted by Tinguely, seven colorful elements, kept at distance from a carefully chosen wood panel, furtively evolve in space thanks to a discreet motorized mechanism. Sprit – Bleu, Ocre et Vert undeniably evokes the work of great masters of modern abstraction while going beyond their contribution, especially by its loose and playful dimension. With this "meta-mechanical" composition, "meta" being used in the sense of "beyond", Tinguely pushed the boundaries of painting, redefining the relationship of art to the world with a unique moving painting. Because let's not forget it is a painting, as Tinguely reminded all throughout his career, constantly stating he created "paintings" and that the machine was merely a "frame".

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi