Luxembourg & Dayan are delighted to present Nouveau Réalisme, their third exhibition in their London Savile Row gallery which will open to the public on 19 June 2012. Following on from the recent Dada Salon exhibition devoted to the work of Jean Hans Arp, Nouveau Réalisme at Luxembourg & Dayan will bring together work by all 13 members of the Nouveau Réaliste movement, including a selection of works by Arman (1928 – 2005), César (b. 1921 - 1998) Christo (b. 1935), Gérard Deschamps (b. 1937), François Dufrêne (1930 – 1982), Raymond Hains (1926 – 2005), Yves Klein (1928 - 1962), Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 - 2002), Martial Raysse (b. 1936), Mimmo Rotella (1918 – 2006), Daniel Spoerri (b. 1930), Jean Tinguely (1925 - 1991) and Jacques Villeglé (b. 1926).
Nouveau Réalisme was officially established in May 1960 with the publication of a manifesto by critic Pierre Restany in the catalogue of an exhibition at the Galerie Apollinaire in Milan. Restany and eight of the artists, who were to become core members of the group, signed a joint declaration on 27 October 1960.
The declaration announced the group’s shared vision and their ambition to explore ‘new perceptual approaches to reality’ in such a way that they were able to maintain a diverse range of artistic approaches. The new exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan in London celebrates this diversity and aims to provide a cross section of the movement, looking at the breadth of work produced by all of the artists involved in the group.
Like the Dadaists and Surrealists, the Nouveau Réaliste artists took an explicitly contemporary and urban view of everyday life, seizing upon ‘reality’ through the use of undisguised artifacts created by others.
Their works ranged from torn and lacerated posters, wrapped objects and accumulations of found objects to assemblages of raw and junk materials and urban detritus including car parts, fabrics, rope and dishes. Examples of the Nouveau Realists’ examination of the artistic possibilities of everyday objects can be seen in Arman’s Colére (1964) which depicts a smashed coffee mill on a wooden panel. Arman’s response to celebrity culture, and the society that it produced at the time, is demonstrated in Homage to Elizabeth Taylor (1965), an accumulation of prisms using photographs of the actress Elizabeth Taylor which make up part of a sculptural construction. Arman’s work later became a strong influence on the international Pop Art movement, the artist himself moving to New York in 1967.
Martial Raysse’s work Pamela Beach (1963) is another important early Nouveau Réaliste work on display in the exhibition. Regarded as the young French artist who came closest to American Pop Art, the theme of the female bather appeared in Martial Raysse's work since 1960. In Pamela Beach, Raysse combined oil, collage and photography on canvas along with the use of real objects to breathe life into the subject.
The use of new or used objects by the Nouveau Réaliste sculptors, often in excess or repetition, brought a new way of looking at the notion of the ready- made, an artistic concept introduced by Marcel Duchamp nearly half a century earlier. The influence of the ready-mades on the Nouveau Réaliste movement is demonstrated in the exhibition through works including Gerard Deschamp’s reliefs where real life objects such as underwear and other fabric have been mounted onto the canvas.
Further highlights of the exhibition include a work by Mimmo Rotella from 1960, 8 Sopra, a décollage canvas which demonstrates the artist’s pioneering use of lacerated posters, a technique also developed by other members of the movement such as Jacques Villeglé, François Dufrêne and Raymond Hains.
The exhibition aims to demonstrate the diversity of the movement and will reveal the huge scope of work captured under the Nouveau Réaliste title. As Arman is quoted as saying, “New Realism 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".