Jul 2nd 2011

Motor Cocktail brings together artists working in the 1960s culled from the MCA’s Collection who used sound and movement to directly engage individuals within mass consumer society and draw them into an immediate sensual experience with the artworks. Jean Tinguely’s Motor Cocktail (1965), fully restored for this exhibition and on view for the first time in 20 years, is one of the exhibition’s focal points. Constructed from scrap metal, the sculpture sets a metal rooster in raucous motion, rotating in harmony with movement of the sun’s jagged disc. In marked contrast is François and Bernard Baschet’s musical sculpture Aluminum Piano (1962), which “plays like a piano and sounds like a glockenspiel.” Since the 1950s, the Baschet brothers began systematically inventing new acoustic instruments that defy easy classification as either visual or musical art. But they share with Tinguely a desire to creatively engage the individual. François Baschet writes: “Philosophically, we think that, in our machine-oriented automated society, creativity is the only way to avoid mass ossification. Sound sculpture is a tool as much as an art form. The Sculptor makes something, and musicians or visitors use it to create their own art. It is a double-trigger operation.” This statement expresses a sentiment prevalent at the time and provides a framework for the other artists included in the exhibition: Jesus Rafael Soto, Takis (Panayotis Vassilakis), Josef Albers, Julio le Parc, Gregorio Vardanega, and George Rickey. Experimental musicians will be playing and accompanying François and Bernard Baschet’s Aluminum Piano.

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