SPIELOBJEKTE – The Art of Possibilities


The collaboration between Tinguely Museum and Kehrer Publishing results in 3 volumes, all have vividly colourful covers (fronts and backs are different) and they are packed in a cartoon box which is in a way transformable – the title has been cut out so the final look depends on the sequence of volumes inside so can be a bit different every time you put all parts back inside. The set includes: a catalogue of works, an anthology of artists’ writings and a volume with texts by Annja Müller-Alsbach, Frederik Schikowski, Roland Wetzel as well as three interviews with: Mary Bauermeister, Peter Lindbergh and Grazia Varisco. Among the participating artists: Gyula Kosice, Mary Vieira, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Yaacov Agam, Edy Brunner, Karl Gerstner, Paul Talman, Dieter Hacker, Charlotte Posenenske, Sultan (Peter Lindbergh), Timm Urlichs, Jeppe Hein, Yayoi Kusama.

Jean Tinguely was saying – ‘Playing is art, therefore I play’. The core of the concept was to bring to attention Spielobjekte – play objects from the late 1960s (which as organisers point out were also called ‘objects of variation’ or ‘participative objects’). Altogether over 100 works by around 50 artists were presented. The key idea was to give opportunity to the viewers to experience direct interaction with art works, let them become co-creators by transforming and reshaping the pieces according to their own wishes. The beholder changes the movement-based compositions of images, reliefs and sculptures and thereby chooses a configuration that pleases him or her. This turns the audience into a direct player between artist and artwork.

Last but not least – it’s the best example of an exhibition catalogue that lasts not only over the duration of the show but also long after and brings a new light into our knowledge of particular period of time or subject in art. When I read it now I have a strong feeling that I missed an excellent exhibition in Basel but at the same time this publication gives a fantastic overview of relevant art works and interesting texts to rediscover the idea of Spielobjekte (bad news for English-speaking world, the book has been published unfortunately only in German). I truly enjoyed revealing essays and the interviews, in particular the one with Peter Lindbergh about his works that I hadn’t known before). Praise for the authors and most of all to the designer – Freddy Fuss who did a splendid job.