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Art with Ammann – Jean Tinguely’s “Hippopotamus”
20. May 2009

Swiss artist Jean Tinguely is world famous for his “working” mechanical sculptures made of scrap metal and other salvaged items. Others may have scornfully looked away, but Tinguely attacked the subject with a passion – and employed the old to create the ingeniously fantastic new, breathing new life into worn objects in the process.


An antiquated barrel fitted with three wheels – used to transport liquid tar from the Ammann works. In 1991 Jean Tinguely affixed the skull of a hippo, added some scrap iron, a few motorcycle parts and several tube sections…and the “Hippopotamus” was born. That same year the painter and sculptor died, aged 66. The work is now owned by the Tinguely Museum in Basel, Switzerland.


The “tar sprinkler wagon” weighs 460 kg and was manufactured in 1958 by the then U. Ammann company in Langenthal. It was used by road workers to fill in the cracks in the asphalt road surface caused by heavy vehicles and icy winter weather.