Giacometti 1

Jean Tinguely, Albatros, 1991 (detail) © 2011 Niki Charitable Art Foundation. All rights reserved.

Remembering Cascade: Tinguely's Last Sculpture

Location: Second-floor gallery Time Period: 1989 – 1991

Between 1989 and 1991, Andreas Bechtler, patron of the Bechtler collection, was a witness to the genesis and construction of Jean Tinguely’s last sculpture – Cascade, a 40-foot motorized mobile suspended over a fountain.  It was the Bechtler family who commissioned the sculpture from their longtime friend and fellow Swiss native for the lobby of the Carillon office tower in uptown Charlotte, a building developed by the Bechtler's company, Hesta AG.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Cascade’s debut, the Bechtler presents Remembering Cascade: Tinguely’s Last Sculpture September 9, 2011 through January 16, 2012 in the museum’s second-floor gallery. The exhibition provides a look at some of the letters, drawings, prints and found objects related to Cascade that Tinguely gave to the Bechtler family after completion of the sculpture. The exhibition serves as a unique focus on a single work by one of the 20th century’s most important kinetic artists. A complementary short film, featuring Andreas Bechtler's memories of Cascade's creation runs simultaneously in the museum's video gallery.

Particularly interesting in the exhibition are the industrial fragments that Tinguely had considered for use in Cascade but, in the end, rejected. Those items offer a window on the artist’s peripatetic and idiosyncratic process where every object, even those that did not end up in the final piece, played a role in the larger work’s creation.

Tinguely left behind informative and engaging detritus in the wake of this remarkable sculpture. Many of the two-dimensional works in the exhibition were actually part of the design process as Tinguely was working out the possibilities of color, form, line, and in particular, motion. For Tinguely, the movement and synchronicity, or lack thereof, in a piece such as Cascade often was worked out on paper and later finalized through the arrangement and placement of objects. His technique, like so many artistic approaches, was slightly mysterious, subconscious and clearly iterative with a central thread of trial and error.

The Carillon office tower is located at 227 West Trade Street, four blocks north of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

VIDEO - Remembering Cascade: Tinguely's Last Sculpture

Andreas Bechtler (patron of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art) reflects on his personal relationship with Jean Tinguely and what it was like to be an eyewitness to Tinguely's artistic exploration during the construction of Cascade.

View Video Cascade

Jean Tinguely, Cascade, 1991

Cascade, a 40-foot motorized mobile suspended over a fountain, is installed in the Carillon office tower four blocks north of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Jean Tinguely made three trips to Charlotte to plan and construct Cascade. Within the sculpture intricate juxtapositions of seemingly random objects hang from the lobby’s ceiling. Fifteen motors slowly move the collection of incongruous parts: a car hood, antlers, light bulbs, balustrades, chain links and myriad spirals and slabs of wood and metal.

Photo by Mitchell Kearney

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