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Jean Tinguely in the Lusso No. 5303 GT / Photographer is Leonardo Bezzola.

The 1960s were not only an incomparable and formative decade for the entire world, but also for Jean Tinguely. As an artist, but also in his private life, everything was going well for him: his first solo museum exhibition at Haus Lange, his breakthrough in Switzerland with his sculpture Heureka – a giant machine conceived as a signal tower and painted black – created for the Expo, and his contributions to the World’s Fair in Montreal bear witness to his success. As if on the side, he also becomes the father of a son. So much upwind must be properly celebrated. And so, in 1968, Tinguely bought a hazelnut-colored Ferrari Lusso, which can be seen as a logical consequence of Tinguely’s fascination for the automobile, which manifested itself unmistakably in his art. Exemplary works include the winged altar reconstructed from two racing car chassis, which is intended to remind us of the transience of Western consumer culture, or the Lotus racing car arranged into a memorial assemblage for the often deadly Formula 1 racing circus. And the exhibition “Fetish Car,” which was on view at the Tinguely Museum in 2011 and featured the broad panorama of automobile-inspired art by 80 different artists, also confirms Tinguely’s affinity for vehicles as well as the close relationship between machine, automobile, and art.

Tinguely had the Ferrari Lusso he bought in 1968 repainted red like love. The feelings soon faded, however: he sold the vehicle just two years later to Paul Blancpain, the manager and partner of racing driver and car dealer Jo Siffert. The latter was one of Tinguely’s friends, as were Joakim Bonnier and Niki Lauda. It goes without saying that Tinguely hardly missed a Formula 1 race. From there, he also liked to steal individual car parts that were flung through the air in a crash in order to use them for his art. And as a driver, he was in no way inferior to the daredevil racing drivers: Tinguely was notorious for his car crashes. Perhaps this was just a deliberate preparatory work for his automotive works of art? One could almost think so.

In 1971, Tinguely bought a Lusso again – from Jo Siffert, shortly before the latter’s fatal accident – and kept it for the rest of his life. Tinguely’s widow, Niki de Saint Phalle, sold the vehicle in May 1997 to Heinrich Kämpfer in Othmarsingen. Today, the still original dark blue Lusso is owned by Andrew Totten in Arizona, USA.

The article could be realized with the support of Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.