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ETTER Illuminates The Art World


Jean Tinguely’s Sculptures at Gladstone Gallery.


ETTER Engineering has dived into The Art World. We recently wrote a program that helps to turn on lights fixed to sculptures made of found objects, or Metamechanics, by Jean Tinguely, (1925-1991). This exhibition is located at Gladstone Gallery in New York City. These sculptures can be art historically linked to the great artists: Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), and Dan Flavin (1933-1996). Duchamp is accredited with Dadaism; the use of found objects in a gallery setting to prompt ideas about how an object, simultaneously containing a form and a function, is representative of Fine Art. Duchamp’s Fountain, 1917, is a urinal with “R. Mutt” written on the side. This piece is described as a readymade; a piece that is already made, with the function  re-appropriated as aesthetically pleasing. Duchamp’s other Dadaist work, L.H.O.O.Q, 1919, is a poster of the Mona Lisa, with a mustache drawn on her face, essentially poking fun at the famous painting and insulting classical expectations of fine art. This presents the notion that fine art can be made, and expanded upon by the hand of the artist. Pablo Picasso contributed his own hand of the artist to his Guitar Series (1912-1914) which are three-dimensional Cubist wall sculptures that use the different sizes, curvature, highlights and shadows of cardboard and paper to form the images of guitars. Fast-forward forty-five years to Minimalist Sculptor, Dan Flavin (1933-1991).  Flavin is ubiquitous for using industrial fluorescent lights to create sculptures, such as in Monument for V. Tatlin, 1964. This sculpture is a study in the re-appropriation of Vladimir Tatlin’s model of a modern tower that would stand in St. Petersburg as a tribute from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. While the use of lighting in art dates back to the illumination of the sun through stained glass, the implementation of industrial materials was quite new and defined Contemporary Art. It is interesting to see the influence of these artists upon Tinguely’s work. As a new age Dadaist, Tinguely used found metal objects to construct his pieces, and also used glass bulbs to serve as an additive in form, and aesthetics. Tinguely’s pieces show a marriage between physics and art, with a balance of materials, and weight on the eye of the viewer. The inherent qualities of sculpture allow a viewer to inhabit the surrounding space, and as they walk around the piece they will experience it differently from other angles. Our Electrical Engineer, Brett Bernier worked on a Programmable Logic Controls which allows the viewer to step on a button connected to the pieces, and for 10 minutes, the piece will be illuminated. The use of technology in art continues to transcend previous notions of fine art that Duchamp expelled. As with the cliché, art (and technology) mimic everyday life.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T07573

Marcel Duchamp,  Fountain, 1917 Source.


Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q., 1919  Source.


Pablo Picasso, Guitar, 1912. Source.


Vladimir Tatlin, Model of the Tower, 1919-20. Source.


Dan Flavin, Monument for V. Tatlin, 1964. Source.

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Tinguely’s Pieces at Gladstone Gallery.