November 20, 2008
This lecture presents an overview of the critical reception to Jean Tinguely's Homage to New York (1960). Measuring approximately 27 x 30 feet and made of recycled metal scraps taken from a Newark dump, Homage to New York was a machine rigged to perform for half an hour and ultimately self-destruct in The Museum of Modern Art's Sculpture Garden. Hailed by the press as a "gadget to end all gadgets," Tinguely's work evoked somber and amusing responses. Some critics considered the Homage a critical comment on the threat of nuclear catastrophe while others deemed it pure entertainment. How are we to understand Tinguely's willful performance of destruction today? The lecture also includes discussion of contemporary artists who have taken up the Swiss artist's legacy as a means to register the violence that continues to define our present.
Lecturer Kaira Cabañas (PhD, Princeton University) is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.
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