Homage to New York: A Self-Constructing and Self-Destroying Work of Art Conceived and Built by Jean Tinguely
In 1960, MoMA’s Press Office sent a press release announcing, matter-of-factly, “A machine, 23 feet long and 27 feet high, conceived and built by the Swiss-born artist Jean Tinguely so that it destroys itself when set in motion, will be shown in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art Thursday evening, March 17.” Tinguely had been asked to create one of his signature kinetic artworks, and in collaboration with other artists such as Billy Klüver and Robert Rauschenberg he assembled a great self-destructing machine monument to the end of the mechanical age. Once set off, the machine performed for 27 minutes for a crowd of invited guests, after which they sorted through the remnants—including bicycle wheels, motors, a bathtub, and a piano—for souvenirs. Curator Peter Selz remembered Tinguely’s astonishment as he collected material for his sculpture: “He had never seen anything like the junkyards and junk heaps of New Jersey.”
See images of the sculpture in action, read the out-of-print brochure, and more at mo.ma/52exhibitions. 36 of #52exhibitions #MoMAhistory #tbt
30-story Lorillard Building. 200 East 42nd Street, east side of Third Avenue. Emery Roth & Sons, 1957-1959. View of the Lorillad Building looking southeast from 666 Third Avenue Building at 42nd Street, in the summer of 1966, with the Continental Can Building (Harrison & Abramovitz, 1961) at right and Daily News Building (Hood & Howells, 1930) at left.
Photo: Office for Metropolitan History, New York, N.Y.
Source: Stern, Robert. A.M. Mellins, Thomas. Fishman, David. “New York 1960. Architecture and urbanism between the Second World War and the Bicentennial” (New York. The Monacelli Press. 1997).