They clatter and squeak, they bang and rattle: Jean Tinguely‘s colossal sound sculptures, the Méta‑Harmonies, are considered key works in this Swiss artist’s oeuvre. Méta‑Harmonie II of 1979 belongs to the collection of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation and is one of the four sound sculptures Tinguely constructed out of scrap metal and a selection of other curious found objects. Having run for 38 years, first at Kunstmuseum Basel and later on permanent loan to the Museum Tinguely, the “sound mixing machine”, as the artist himself called it, had to be shut down, as too many mechanical parts were sorely worn and some of the built-in instruments – piano, melodica, keyboard – had broken down altogether.
The team of conservators at Schaulager, under the guidance of Marcus Broecker and Carole Maître, painstakingly refurbished the kinetic sculpture in collaboration with Jean-Marc Gaillard, former assistant to the artist and conservator at Museum Tinguely. The team trawled through archives and analysed historical photographs of the work, spoke to Jean Tinguely’s friends and consulted among others musicologists as well as experts in materials technology. Their goal: to restore the sculpture’s diversity of sounds and recreate its original vibrancy. From November 24, 2018, Méta‑Harmonie II will once again be on view at Museum Tinguely for visitors to see, listen and delight in the virtuoso mastery with which Jean Tinguely artistically exploited the acoustic potential of movement and the visual potential of material.