Joyous Machines at Tate Liverpool

Michael Landy with Jean Tinguely's work at Tate Liverpool. Photo: Minako Jackson Jean Tinguely Méta-matic No.17, 1959 Painted iron wood, paper 330 x 172 x 193 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Donation 1965 from the Friends of Moderna Museet
Michael Landy with Jean Tinguely's work at Tate Liverpool. Photo: Minako Jackson. Jean Tinguely Méta-matic No.17, 1959 Painted iron wood, paper 330 x 172 x 193 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Donation 1965 from the Friends of Moderna Museet

Why 27? A centre-piece of this exhibition is Jean Tinguely’s ‘Homage to New York’ (H2NY) which was 27 feet tall and burst into flames after 27 minutes. Michael Landy presents a fascinating 27 minute documentary about his work and H2NY. In 2001 Landy publically destroyed all his belongings in an event call Break Down  – there were 7227 items in total.

Jean Tinguely. 'Miracle Machine, Meta-Kandinsky I' 1956. Museum Tinguely, Basel
Jean Tinguely. 'Miracle Machine, Meta-Kandinsky I' 1956. Museum Tinguely, Basel

The machines are amazing, I like the the slow-moving minimal ones which look like gradually ever-changing paintings. Landy’s drawings are amazing too, very skilled, some drawn with oil sticks others with correction fluid. I remember his very precise botanical etchings of weeds seeming such a radical move from his Break Down show.

Michael Landy H.2.N.Y. Homage to New York, 2007 Oil stick on paper 153 x 244 cm © Michael Landy Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Michael Landy H.2.N.Y. Homage to New York, 2007 Oil stick on paper 153 x 244 cm © Michael Landy Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Landy co-curates this exhibition, and devotes 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, the most famous and influential of all ‘auto-destructive’ works of art.

Michael Landy’s comprehensive research and responses to the work, including a new documentary film and a selection of his impressive series of over 160 drawings are presented alongside photographs, films and relics of the original event.

Worth a few visits, I’m keen to go back and watch the videos in full (unusual for me) and press those big red buttons on the machines again.

Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely
2 October 2009 – 10 January 2010 at Tate Liverpool

Fragment from Homage to New York (fan), 1960. Kluver/Martin Archive
Fragment from Homage to New York (fan), 1960. Kluver/Martin Archive
SHARE