Van de Weghe Fine Art is pleased to present a major work by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely: The Witches, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Executed in 1985, The Witches is a tableau of eight motorized figures composed of welded cast-off metal objects – bicycle frames, chains, axles, pulleys, wheels, scrap and wrought iron – various detritus, and animal skulls. Animated by electric motors, the macabre figures wobble, rotate, heave, shudder, stop, and start in an apocalyptic ballet mécanique, a romantic requiem to the machine.
Tinguely was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1925. In 1953, he moved from Basel, now home to the Tinguely Museum, to Paris, where he quickly became allied with artists Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri, César, Raymond Hains, and Jacques de la Villeglé. It was these artists who would become the core group of Pierre Réstany’s Nouveaux Réalistes in 1960, making art out of the mundane materials – mostly urban or industrial – of everyday life.
Strongly influenced by Duchamp, Tinguely quickly came to be counted among the most important European artists of the post-war period. Through sculptures, reliefs, installations, and environments, Tinguely played with kinetics, the objet trouvé, and the mechanical – the three constants in his work from his early happenings/actions in the late ‘50s to the monumental “Méta-Harmonie” works of the ‘80s. As early as 1960, Tinguely exhibited in the United States – notably, a self-destructing sculpture detonated in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work is a major presence in European museums and collections.