Indian Chief
Date 1961
Medium Wood, metal, plastic, feather and electric engine
Dimensions 109.5 x 62.5 x 59 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-570
This sculpture was constructed at the Polytechnical High School in Stockholm, the city where Jean Tinguely was working at the time of his 1961 exhibition, Rörelse konsten i [Movement in Art], at the Moderna Museet. The work belongs to the series Baloubas and, as in La Folie, Crown Jacket, Vive la Liberté or L’Araignée, Tinguely took inspiration from the situation in Africa at the beginning of the 1960s, and the Congo in particular. Following independence, serious unrest culminated in the assassination, on 17 January 1961, of Patrice Lumumba, a member of the Balouba tribe and the first prime minister of the young republic. Both irony and astonishment informed the titles Tinguely chose for these works. The piece consists of a mixture of unconnected rusty and shredded objects which, once the motor is started, dance and jump, provoking irrepressible laughter in the spectator. The halting of the motor instils doubt and unease. The presence of feathers and fur reveals the influence of Niki de Saint Phalle and is a reference to Africa. AC
Collection of the artist; donated to collector; acquired at Sotheby’s, London, 2 December 1993.