Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes
22 October 2014 – 11 January 2015
Before they converged to form collaborations, to make mutual dedications of work and jointappearances, the origins and development of the five presented artistswere highly varied. Whatunited them, however, was cross-disciplinary thinking and functioning: Performative action, poetry, onomatopoeia, theatrical action, happening, photography, and film took shape throughthe medium of the décollages and the process of décollage. At the same time, though, theirworks, which range from the minute fragment – small exercises and studies – to the overwhelming large format, also have an inherent painterly and pictorial potential, which appears to unite objectivity and abstract reading with equal naturalness and arbitrariness. François Dufrêne’s origin as a literary and ultra-literary onomatopoeist, language subverter and language actionist formed the manner of his appropriation of posters by means of language games, a partly cryptic/objective interpretation of abstract shape fragments, and the fascination for temporality, reprinting, and the archaeological method of stratification – as his peeled-out poster backs show.
All this material is provided by the metropolis in “autopoetic productivity” to the attentive city stroller. Be it Paris for Dufrêne, Hains, Villeglé, or Vostell too, be it Rome for Mimmo Rotella. Rotella, who joins the circle of the “Nouveaux Réalistes” via acquaintance with Restany, experimented for his part, independently of the other Affichistes, with décollages from as early as 1953. Collages of even earlier date are followed in formal similarity by initial décollages and poster backs which deal likewise, as actual material images, with the theme of the archaeological, and which are directed toward the special quality of weathered paper and their rear support. In contrast to Hains and Villeglé Rotella also, however, intervenes directly in the surface, in order to reveal structures, patterns, and strata. The objects of his torn-off posters change after 1960. Now he is particularly interested in colorfully advertised products from the consumer world and in movie posters. In this he concurs, in turn, with Villeglé, who was occupied with the same fascination for advertising's popular images. They thereby become Pop Art pioneers. Wolf Vostell uses the term of “dé-coll/age” not only in connection with torn-up posters, but also as a comprehensive art concept, in order to emphasize deconstruction as a creative process. He uses torn-up posters in one of his first happenings, Das Theater ist auf der Strasse of 1958, in which the audience was called to take part in the action, to cite text fragments, or to imitate (fragmentarily) illustrated gestures. In Vostell, Actionist elements of reworking or overpainting (by the audience) complement the process of selection and appropriation.
The exhibition Poetry of the Metropolis covers the period from 1946 until 1968 and pays particular attention to the emergence and early phase of the Affichistes, to photographic, filmic, and poetical experiments and collaborations. We are indebted for being able to present the five artists with their most important works to a large number of lenders who are generously supporting our project – something which cannot be taken for granted given the fragility of these “paper works”. The presentation is arranged as a chronologically and thematically linked urban space, which particularly emphasizes the abstract large formats and the large objective décollages, but also specifically presents the theme of the political posters just as much as the fascination for text, texture and structure.
An abundant supporting program featuring concerts, films, and poetry and literature events will be taking place as part of the exhibition, updating the haphazard nature of this fascinating art form for the present day as well. The exhibition has been devised by Roland Wetzel, Director of Museum Tinguely, and Esther Schlicht, curator at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt.
The exhibition is a collaboration by Museum Tinguely and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt where it will be there on display afterwards (February, 5 – May, 25 2015)
The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalog edited by Snoeck Verlag with articles by Bernard Blistène, Fritz Emslander, Esther Schlicht, Didier Semin, Dominique Stella and an interview with Jacques Villeglé by Roland Wetzel. German-Enlish edition, 280 pages, price at Museum’s book shop: 42 CHF, ISBN: 978-3-9523990-8-8
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