1958 | NOUVEAU RÉALISM. The poetics of the object.
curated by Francesca Franco
This movement, theorised by the French critic Pierre Restany, takes shape between 1958 and 1959 and is characterised by the recovery of everyday objects which, after being processed, transformed, piled up, emphasised, become part of the work of art or make up the work of art itself. An example of this are Mimmo Rotella’s billboards (décollage); César’s scrapped cars; Daniel Spoerri’s leftovers of a laid table.
The first manifesto of the nouveaux réalistes is published by Restany in Milan on 16 April 1960, with a view to a group exhibition at the Apollinaire gallery, and on 27 October of the same year the group is officially founded by the artist Yves Klein. The second manifesto is published on 17 May 1961, on the occasion of the opening exhibition of Restany’s wife Jeanine de Goldschmid’s Galerie J in Paris: 40° au-dessus de Dada. In the very choice of the title, the exhibition testifies of the role played in the movement’s poetic by the legacy of Marcel Duchamp and Dadaism, that teach nouveau réalistes about the irreverent spirit of the object and the appropriation of elements from the urban scene, acknowledging the poetic value of their social content. Differently from Marcel Duchamp’s found and ready-made objects, the nouveaux réalistes alter the objects taken from reality in line with what artists close to Pop Art like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg are doing in the early 1960s, working specifically with assemblage.
Alongside Klein, Spoerri and Rotella the main figures of the movement are the French Jean Tinguely, Arman, César, François Dufrêne, Jacques Villeglé, who are later joined by the Bulgarian Christo, and by Niki de Saint-Phalle and Gérard Deschamps.
Yves KleinMonocrhome - 1956
Blue pigment on canvas