Art Term

Nouveau réalisme

Nouveau réalisme was a French movement which can be seen as a European counterpart to pop art

Founded in 1960 by the critic Pierre Restany, artists associated with nouveau réalism (which translates as ‘new realism’) made extensive use of collage and assemblage as well as painting.

Some of the artists incorporated real objects directly into their work, acknowledging a debt to the readymades of Marcel Duchamp. The leading exponents of this aspect were Arman, César, Christo, Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri.

Raymond Hains, Mimmo Rotella, Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé and Wolf Vostell developed the décollage, or torn poster technique, making striking works from accumulated layers of posters they removed from advertising hoardings. Among the painters were Valerio Adami, Alain Jacquet, Martial Raysse (who also made notable installations) and the German, Gerhard Richter, who named his work capitalist realism.

One of the most significant artists associated with nouveau réalisme was Yves Klein who died prematurely in 1962. He was enormously inventive in his short career, staging happenings and carrying out early examples of performance art using his own body, and anticipating conceptual art as well as making remarkable paintings.

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