Artwork of the month Oktober

Jean Tinguely, Untitled, 1983

Jean Tinguely

* 1925 in Fribourg, Switzerland, † 1991 in Bern, Schwitzerland

Untitled, 1983

Assemblage: Iron, wood, paint, electric motor, insulating tape, electrical cables

100 × 40 × 30 cm

Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz / Purchased with funds of the Ars Rhenia Foundation, Vaduz


Jean Tinguely's untitled assemblage from 1983, that he occasionally referred to as "underdog", is an example of the artist's late work. The "little machine" consists of various objets trouvés. The central static element of metal appears to have grown organically and presents itself in a dark green colouring with a chipped area of red in the middle. Fastened to this is an electric motor causing a spiral iron rod to rotate steadily anticlockwise. Another element is a little fretsaw board, painted black, with a cut-out resembling the shape of a pawn. A long thin iron rod is inserted through this opening and, driven by the motor, moves at a slower rate than the spiral, causing the free end of the long rod to oscillate. The erratic swings of the rod cause the little wooden board to tilt repeatedly to one side. We hear the gentle purring of the motor, a quiet grazing of the rod on the wooden base, and the clicking sounds of the little board caused by its tilting movements. This interplay of sounds and movement gives rise to an almost meditative and at the same time energising atmosphere in space.

"In this age everything is moving more than ever before—absolutely and totally. I mean, movement really is something which we now feel comprehensively as a result of machines, the mechanical quality of our age", as Tinguely put it. With his kinetic work, the artist can be ranked among a number of major pioneers in art from the 1950s onwards. The focus of his artistic work is on the exploration of the machine. In addition to the fundamental properties of the machine, Tinguely was particularly interested in its movement—in a determined and incidental way—in the "musical" value of its sounds and its poetic, playful character in general.

Denise Rigaud


"Everything moves, immobility does not exist. [...] Accept instability. Live in Time. Be static – with movement."

Jean Tinguely, "For Statics", leaflet, March 1959.

<b>Jean Tinguely, Untitled, 1983</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.