FMP: Raymond Hains and Nouveau Realisme

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Raymond Hains was a French artist operating in Paris during the mid twentieth century. His first works were surrealist photographs using special lenses that multiplied and abstracted the subject.

He is most famous for probably inventing the torn poster decollage technique, which was used heavily by him and his collaborator Jacques Villegle. I am very influenced by this process, which was simply to tear the accumulations of posters off Parisian walls and fix them to canvas, thus bringing a part of the street into the gallery space.

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One of the first decollages, the ambitious “Ach Alma Manetro”, made with Villegle.

Travailleurs Communistes by Raymond Hains. His new technique was also used for political purposes, for instance in a later exhibition criticising French activity in Algeria.

At this point Hains became involved with the Nouveau Realisme movement, which was founded in 1960 in the apartment of the artist Yves Klein. The other artists included Arman, Villegle, Niki de Saint Phalle, the young Christo and Jean Tinguely. The Nouveau Realisme movement has also influenced me a lot, and I think it is one of the best jumping off points for new artists. They believed that abstract art was too cut off from the world, while figurative painting had been hijacked by Stalin or the petit bourgeois. Thus they decided to bring art and life closer together, directly appropriating material from the outside world, for instance in Arman’s accumulations of trash. This made the movement in some ways similar to Pop Art.

The original Nouveau Realisme manifesto, which was signed by all the artists.

Later Hains’ adventures included helping the artist Daniel Spoerri turn a gallery into a restaurant for 11 days, and building a giant box of matches, which caused the gallery owner Iris Clert to hire two firemen. He also was an artist obsessed with not repeating himself, often burning all his previous work. After a long career he died in 2005.

In my own project I have incorporated some ideas of Hains and the Nouveau Realists. For instance the large collage I have made is constructed partly from street ephemera like receipts and pieces of cardboard. Also my film is really dedicated to the street and the outside world, finding the amazing features of the underground world.

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