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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

© 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Swiss, 1925 - 1991
Méta-matic No. 9
Round rubber belt, steel rods, painted sheet metal, wire wooden pulleys, clothespins, and electric motor

35 1/2 x 56 5/8 x 14 1/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of D. and J. de Menil

Arts of Europe

Jean Tinguely is best known for his kinetic and mechanically animated sculptures that explore the aesthetics of movement. His sculptural machines are built of found or familiar objects and rudimentary parts, combining kineticism with the hallmarks of junk art.

Mèta-matic No. 9, a machine for drawing, displays Tinguely's trademark wit and conceptual rigor. It critiques central tenets of art history, namely the role of the artistís hand in the production an artwork and the importance an object's unique status. Instead, this portable machine allows one to produce an abstract drawing automatically. Given the quality of materials used to construct the Mèta-matic pieces, the resulting drawings are unpredictable and haphazard.

Ultimately, Mèta-matic No. 9 is a work of art that functions as a machine to produce a limitless number of offspring artworks. "The machine is above all an instrument which permits me to be poetic," Tinguely said. "If you respect the machine, if you enter into a game with the machine, then perhaps you can make a truly joyous machine; by joyous I mean free."