Capturing movement has been one of the main challenges facing artists over the centuries. Tinguely's sculpture explores this problem in the most literal way possible, by recreating the action itself. This type of kinetic or moving art was made in response to a fashion for gestural, action-painting of the time. When the electric motor is switched on, the curtain's beaded strands move furiously, rhythmically and noisily, like the grass skirt of a Hawaiian dancer. The title is a pun on the French word ‘jalousie' which means both jealousy and a blind or bead curtain.
The title of this sculpture is an untranslatable pun on the French word 'jalousie', which means both 'jealousy' and a 'blind or bead curtain'. The work is powered by an electric motor, which makes the bead curtain shake when a button is pressed. The bead curtain moves furiously but also sensuously, much like the grass skirt of an exotic dancer. However, the movement of the curtain can be interpreted differently: it also evokes the idea of a person trembling with jealousy.
Tinguely was born in Switzerland. He studied in Basel from 1941 to 1945 and moved to Paris in 1953. Tinguely was one of a number of artists of the period who explored movement, in what became known as Kinetic art. From the mid-1950s he made strange machines, some of which involved radios, lights and motors while others relied on the viewer to turn a crank. Tinguely used everyday materials and junk to explore ideas of motion, impermanence and accident. With their energetic displays of pointless activity, his machines satirise technology and challenge the concept of mechanisation as a positive force in society.