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The late Jean Tinguely (he died 1991) was a Basel artist who focused on "mechanical" or "kinetic" art, improvising moving machines that at first sight do not serve a recognisable purpose. One of his major works is the "Fasnachts"- or "Carnaval"-Fountain, often simply called "Tinguely-Fountain" on the Theaterplatz square in Basel. 10 mechanical sculptures move constantly in the fountain, playing and spraying with the water.
Local boy and Dadaist Jean Tinguely built a great pool on the site of the stage from Basel's old theater. Inside the pool intricate sculptural machines, or kinetic art, clatter and flap and spray water around in a manner that represents the talking of the stage actors now residing in the new theater nearby. It's one of Basel's unique sights, and a rare example of a modern attraction in Basel's overwhelming old world charm.
It's a peaceful place, full of lunching workers and theatergoers. There was a strong smell of cannabis (now decriminalised in Switzerland), which seemed entirely fitting.
The fountain is located at Theaterplatz, a square which formerly was the place of a theatre. Tinguely used parts of old machineries for this work, including material from the former theatre. The fountain was presented to the public in 1977. Unfortunately, it was winter when I was there so that the fountain almost disappeared between the lights of the Christmas market and the darkness of a European winter. On the other hand, the old machinery parts seem to accumulate ice quite quickly and can form bizzarre ice sculptures by themselves in wintertime.
Jean Tinguely was a modern sculptor with a great sense of humour. His fountain is one of the most entertaining works of art I know.
The shallow basin is filled with a number of strange black machines that move, rattle and squeak with enormous effort while their sole purpose is splashing water around. The material for these creations was taken from the machinery of the theatre, which is next to the fountain. When the theatre was renovated and new equipment was installed, the scupltor received pieces of the old machinery to create this fountain.
Photos hardly do them justice. Watch my video to see them in motion.
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Artsy "water works", a terrific Tinguely fountain
Right behind the Elisabethan Church in Basel is a most-entertaining water fountain. In fact, MYNDO tells me that it's her favorite in a city with many, many fountain. This fountain is designed by renowned kinetic artist Jean Tinguely. A painter and sculptor, Mr. Tinguely is best known for sculptural machines or kinetic art. I've heard the term metamechanics used to describe his art. There is apparently an entire museum dedicated to Tinguely's work in Basel, and ...not surprisingly... there is a kinetic fountain in front of that edifice.
Basically, we are talking about multiple sculptures, made from a variety of metallic items, most gaining some type of motion or artistic effort from the flow of water. This is definitely a "busy" work of art, and you'll find yourself mesmerized by all of the different "participants" in the pool's population.
Visit the Tinguely-Fountain
The Tinguely Fountain is right at the Theatre in Basel.
As I described it in my intro page, it is my most favorite one.
With its many moving and spewing and splashing pieces it is a view!
If you are coming in winter, you may be lucky and see it wholy covered in ice, which gives it a fairy tale feeling. (see picture)
And if you really liked Tinguelys stile, don't forget there?s a Tinguley-museum in Basel, too!
The Tinguely Fountain
Right by the Theaterplatz is this pool full of Tinguely sculptures - mechanical contraptions made of recycled machinery parts which do crazy things with water. They make people sitting nearby smile, which is what public art should be about.
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