In the Spring of 1960, my friend, the sculptor, Jean Tinguely set up a huge “self-constructing/self-destructing machine” in the garden of The Museum of Modern Art, also known as the Sculpture Court. He called it his Homage to New York.
When it was turned on it whirled, burned, whistled and clanked, to the delight of the reserved museum audience and ground out poems, music and art before beating itself into a fiery frenzy and leaving its wreckage strewn about the museum courtyard. Clouds of smoke were everywhere. Then out of the audience stepped a man in uniform who presented Jean with a document he took to be an expression of artistic enthusiasm, but which turned out to be a citation for disturbing the peace and violating the City fire code. I’m not sure if anyone ever paid it.
D A Pennebaker
“It is senseless to ask whether or not Tinguely's machines are art. What they show in a very significant way is man's struggle for survival in a scientific world.”
— Richard Huelsenbeck
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