SI C’EST NOIR, JE M’APPELLE JEAN
Text by Fabrizia Maselli
The only stable thing is movement
Through March 22 the Swiss Institute in Milan presents Si c’est noir, je m’appelle Jean, an exhibition entirely devoted to one of the leading exponents of Swiss and international contemporary art, Jean Tinguely.
By binding to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the artist’s passing in 2016, this exhibition is an opportunity to investigate the lasting popularity, crossing several generations, of this main figure in XXth century art.
The title of the show refers to a work made in 1960 by Tinguely, in which the Swiss artist triggered the explosion of his sculpture Hommage à New York. On the 10th anniversary of the founding of Nouveau Réalisme, Tinguely proposes once again a similar scandalous oeuvre at Piazza del Duomo in Milan, where the movement had taken form. On the evening of 28 November 1970, Tinguely exploded La Vittoria, a large steel sculpture with a very explicit phallic shape.
The exhibition is structured in one single room and presents a set of works made during the years, drawings, installations as well as some of the published documents and film footage connected with this fundamental event mentioned above. A king size bed placed at the corner is covered with drawn sheets which match with the t-shirts hanging at the walls. Particularly important in Tinguely’s production are the drawings, many of them from illustrated letters to his friends. With the passing of the years they have become more colorful, mocking and even provocative, as with those exposed at the Swiss Institute. All around the walls of the exhibition are covered by pictures and drawings referring to the explosion of La Vittoria. Choosing very colorful works, the show takes a playful look at the artist’s proximity to a certain idea of Pop.
Thanks to the collaboration of two collectors, the Swiss Institute has gathered together objects that have contributed to firmly etch the image of Jean Tinguely in collective memory, particularly in Switzerland.