From Anker to Zao Wou-Ki

From Anker to Zao Wou-Ki

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 34. Ovale stabilisé, 1959.


Jean Tinguely

Ovale stabilisé, 1959

Lot Closed

December 15, 01:32 PM GMT


350,000 - 450,000 CHF

Lot Details



Jean Tinguely

1925 - 1991

Ovale stabilisé, 1959

Wood panel with 5 differently shaped metal elements;

wood pulleys, rubber belt, metal rods and electric motor

Signed, titled and dated on the reverse

58.5 x 52 x 23 cm

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Mr & Mrs Robert B Meyer (label on the reverse)
Howard Wise Gallery, New York 
Galerie Renée Ziegler, Zurich
Private collection, Switzerland
Acquired from the above in 1982
Thence by descent
Christina Bischofberger, Jean Tinguely. Catalogue Raisonné. Sculptures and Reliefs 1954-1968, Küsnacht/Zurich/New York, 1982, vol. I,  no. 110, p. 91, ill.

In 1953 Tinguely moved to Paris with Eva Aeppli and began working on kinetic sculptures, especially works in wire and metal reliefs. Influenced by Russian avant-garde artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Kandinsky and the French painter Auguste Herbin, Tinguely developed his machine sculptures which combined movement and abstract forms.

Ovale Stabilisé is part of a series of reliefs called Œuf d’Onocrotale (Pelican Egg) where the various parts can be combined to form an egg shape. The description is highly theoretical as there is very little chance that the various parts, which all turn at different speeds, would ever combine in order to form the perfect ovoid shape. Another version, titled Œuf d’Onocrotale no. 2, from the same year 1958 and extremely close in composition and size to the present work, is in the Tinguely Museum in Basel (inv. no. 1118).

The floating forms of the sculpture are connected and driven from the reverse by wooden or metal wheels of different sizes. The pivotal point of the shapes is not situated in the middle and the drive wheels have different diameters. In this way, new "constellations" are constantly being created and are ever changing. By incorporating movement into the composition, Tinguely creates an artwork which is in continual motion; with the inclusion of time he transforms a three-dimensional object into a four-dimensional one.

Despite sometimes using bright colours, here the artist has chosen a reduced colour palette, with the five white elements contrasting starkly against the deep black wooden panel. In this way attention is concentrated on the outlines of the forms and their movement.

Ovale Stabilisé is a quintessential example of Tinguely’s inventiveness and his exploration into the relationship between man and machinery. His dynamic moving sculptures are reminiscent of Calder’s organically rhythmic mobiles but are developed further with the addition of a mechanical element. Tinguely’s originality lies in his ability to combine art and mechanics, in his ability to allow artworks to constantly change.