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Nouveau Réalisme Collage

Nouveau Réalisme

Started: 1960

Ended: 1970

Nouveau Réalisme Timeline

Quotes

"To me art is a form of manifest revolt, total and complete."
Jean Tinguely
"I maintain that the expression of junk and objects has an intrinsic value, and I see no need to look for aesthetic forms in them and to adapt them to the colors of the palette."
Arman
"We should not be afraid to say it, Nouveau Réalisme was on many levels in advance compared to Pop art, less entrenched in style disputes, less attached to the notion of authorship, sometimes more audacious in the composition, but most of all it carried a less ambiguous political project."
Nicolas Bourriard
"For me, the real world involves everything: risk, danger, beauty, energy."
Christo
"Art is the distortion of an unendurable reality... Art is correction, modification of a situation; art is communication, connection... Art is social, self-sufficient, and total."
Jean Tinguely
"Nouveau Réalisme gathered together artists who first perceived, problems posed by the relationship with the object, the object that is produced, mechanical, rejected, mass produced, posters. They tried to understand the civilization in the material it has, the problem of flooding slogans, advertising, machine supermarkets, the urban world and the object factory."
Arman
"Nouveau Réalisme has never been a movement unified in style. For some, it is just a circumstantial grouping of artists whose existence was infinitely short. For others, there was not even a group but a sort of philosophy about art and its legacy still carries on today."
Historian Catherine Francblin
"These objects, these works, these images do not fall under any global definition, and are not imprisoned in any dogma."
Historian Catherine Francblin

KEY ARTISTS

ArmanArman
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Cesar BaldacciniCesar Baldaccini
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ChristoChristo
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François DufrêneFrançois Dufrêne
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Raymond HainsRaymond Hains
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Yves KleinYves Klein
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"A new world calls for a new man."

Yves Klein Signature

Synopsis

A group of French artists in the early 1960s set out to prove the death of art's preciousness by considering reality their primary medium. Through a phenomenological reflection about the world around them, they would create works and happenings under the banner of Nouveau Réalisme, or New Realism. Although it was not the first "realism" movement, it was coined "new" as the third component to the Nouveau Roman (fiction) and New Wave (film) genres that were also progressive arrivals of culture in France at the time. With Nouveau Réalisme, artists questioned the idea that art had to elevate, politicize, or idealize any subject. This questioning led to an intersection between art and life, narrowing the gap between artists and the public, allowing everyone to participate in and easily relate to a rich multiplicity of media, forms, and styles. Although it was relatively short-lived, the movement's influence is still widely seen today, perhaps because it offered such myriad possibilities within the ever-existing fodder of the present environment for any given artist.

Key Ideas

Nouveau Réalisme's presentation of reality was a decidedly new one. Its artists were responding to their environment in post-war Europe amidst a society wetting its teeth on cultural production and consumption. This was articulated through a direct appropriation of, and dialogue with, parts of their world, or as founder Pierre Restany would say, "a poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality." They advocated this return to reality (the items they saw around themselves) in opposition to the lyricism of abstract painting or the petty bourgeois of figuration.
Through presenting what was real rather than what was appropriated or conjured, the Nouveaux Réalistes stripped art of a dogma that insisted it had to mean something. On the heels of Dada, they took the readymade object beyond negativity, banality, or polemics to become an active participant in a work of art or performance in its simple, unadorned form. An accumulation of trash became a picture. A crushed car informed a sculpture. A block of color could dwell on a wall, unapologetically itself.
Destruction was a common mode of creation. Some artists destroyed or vandalized objects, transforming their parts into new assemblages. Others used machinery, fire, and even guns to interact with objects and material in compelling new ways. The decollagists pirated. This violence became a metaphor for destroying traditional attitudes on what constituted art in order to aggressively define new ones.
The movement worked to deconstruct the glamorization of artists as solitary people working alone in the studio, producing valuable objects for the privileged confines of the gallery wall or museum space. It became common for artists to collaborate on projects and to create or show their work in public spaces. Oftentimes the audience was invited to participate in the art making, thus stimulating a new level of spectacle and viewer engagement. These activities were seen as both institutional critique and a liberation of the pigeonholed creative spirit.

Beginnings

Nouveau Réalisme Image

Recycling Reality

In 1955, French art critic Pierre Restany met Yves Klein at his first solo show in Paris. At the time Klein had been making a name for himself as an artist whose work challenged the illusions of art. In this exhibition he was showing the first series of what would later become his famous monochrome works - paintings made of simple squares of one uniform color. There was no relation of color to anything but itself, a blasphemous notion at the time. Klein introduced Restany to a large group of artists including Jean Tinguely and Arman whose work, like much of his own, meant to show ordinary reality without idealization. Unlike the European Realists or the Social Realists before them, who were known to present reality through a darker lens, Klein and his peers were simply acting as mirrors to explore their everyday urban, consumer society.

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Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols
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