Monday, 26 October 2009

Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely.

Moving Art : Meta Mechanical sculpture

Photograph of Jean Tinguely.

Drawing by Michael Landy.

So on Friday I went to see the joyous machines exhibitioncurrentlyshowing at the TATE Liverpool. This exhibition focused upon the connection between the work of Jean Tinguely (1925-1991), one of the most radical, inventive and subversive sculptors of the mid twentieth-century, and renowned British artist Michael Landy, who has been significantly influenced by Tinguely and his constructive and destructive tendencies. Landy is best known for ‘break down’ which saw him catalogue and destroy every single one of his possessions, from his birth certificate to his car. The documentary was showing in the exhibition and I couldn't help but be fascinated by this (what I find) ‘silly’ thing to do.

Jean Tinguely’s early work was all about the kinetic energies of art. He created moving pieces of art/sculpture which were really cool to watch and interactive getting the audience involved with the pieces of design. My favourites were the spirograph style drawings created with the machines Jean had made. One which stood out was the drawing by Eva De Buren on the meta matic machine. This work was really inspiring as it left room for mistake and failure, which was all dependent on the machine. This is something that I have been worried about within my own work, this exhibition has shown me that sometimes it is valid to make mistakes. 

Landy co-curated Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely, and devoted special attention to Tinguely’s rarely examined early career, tracing the development of Tinguely’s work from the late 1940s building up to his momentous Homage to New York. This, the most famous and influential of all ‘auto-destructive’ works of art, was a 27ft high self-destroying mechanism that came to life for 27 minutes before catching fire during a performance in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York on 17 March 1960. 

‘For Tinguely, New York was where humankind was closest to the machines it had created. Homage to New York was a celebration of modern life, the machine, technology, commerce, production and waste. Mimicking the pace and fluctuations of contemporary urban life. Its ingenuity, parody and susceptibility to the unpredictable, addressed fears about a new age at the start of the decade.’ 

Dare I say it, I didn't actually ‘understand’ a lot of the thinking behind the self destroying machine. I think I was missing something. Towards the end of the exhibition, and when I entered the Homage To New York section, I really started to enjoy the work I was seeing. I understood that the work was trying to acknowledge the relationship between human and machine, trying to bring art closer to everyday reality. The drawings by Michael Landy were amazing and it was brilliant to see them up close and personal. It really motivated me into thinking that I should just get on with it, stop thinking Gemma and get on with it! The drawings were something to be seen, and its staggering to think he has made over 160 of these. The drawings were on such a large scale (Something I need to experiment with) but the detail was incredible. The photographs and drawings documenting the event were beautiful. I loved how the images of the people involved really captured the emotion. Id like to start thinking about how I could improve my photography of ordinary people but capturing something special.

Overall I was really impressed with the exhibiton and I am glad I made the journey to see it (even if I did feel under the weather). It was really inspiring to see someone so into what they were studying and experimenting with. It said to me that its OK to take inspiration from the works of other artists and designers. 

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