By Margarita Kataga

   “We Europeans – and I refer specifically to the experiment attributed to The New Realists – come from Duchamp : the readymade fascinates us more than the pictorial gesture.”

Mimmo Rotella

The” experiment ” of Nouveau Réalisme (New ealism), as Mimmo Rottella characteristically mentions it, has the unique opportunity for the public to get to know and study at the international exhibition dedicated to Nouveau Réalisme presented this winter at the Museum of Athens by the Βasil & Elise Goulandris Foundation.

The explosive, revolutionary movement between Dada and Pop Art, which overthrew the 20th century art in the period 1960-1963, defined its identity on October 27, 1960 through the manifesto drafted by the French art critic Pierre Restany to accompany the group’s first exhibition in Milan. The exhibition with the simple and lucid title Nouveau Réalisme co-curted  by Marion Meyer, president of the International Man Ray Association, and Maria Koutsomalli-Moreau, consists of characteristic and important works of the main representatives of the movement. The works come from the collections of important European museums such as the Centre Georges Pompidoy in Paris, private collections and works from the collection of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation.

Nouveau réalisme exhibition

Artists Arman, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé met and “chat” with César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, Gérard Deschamps and then with Christo. Most of the projects as well as their collaborations developed between 1960 and 1963 and grew more sparsely until 1970, the year the group celebrated its tenth anniversary in Milan.

The term realism, chosen by Restany, was not accidental. It was a reference to the artistic and literary movement that developed in Western Europe in the mid-19th century. In the field of art, his main representative was Gustave Courbet, who described him as”the negation of the ideal”. Following his example, the members of the new realism came to transcribe in their art their own perception of the world, within a society now industrialized, Bourgeois for the most part, and dominated by advertising and mass production.

Yves Klein (1928-1962), Blue Venus (Venus of Alexandria), 1962

Marion Meyer, president of The Man Ray International Association, met Man Ray, Gérard Deschamps and others in their studios and lived intense moments with them. In 1965 he met Spoerri at Arturo Schwarz’s home in Milan, Arman at Sidney Janis’s Gallery in New York, as well as Christo and Jeanne-Claude. At Iris Cert Gallery in Paris Meet Mmmo Rottela and César

As she states, “to the neorealists I owe the awareness of the course of the world towards mass consumption. They used elements of everyday life, urban and industrial”..

And as the co-curator of the exhibition Maria Koutsomalli-Moreau, head of the collection of the basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, characteristically describes, “the new realism is a politically charged movement. The aesthetic choices and artistic concerns of the members of this ephemeral but important movement made them pioneers in many topical issues that transcend the boundaries of art: such as the ambiguity of the role of industry, the importance of recycling, the need to revise issues related to climate change and ecology”.

Jacques Villeglé (1926-2022), Arcueil, 1971

The initial question of the curators of the exhibition was how to combine 13 artists in one exhibition. Each artistic work, each artist is treated as a solo exhibition.  The characteristic axis that makes the exhibition particularly interesting educationally and academically is the term “collective uniqueness of the artists” something that emerges and defines the curatorial approach of the whole. Next to the characteristic works of more well-known representatives of the movement such as Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle, the public has the opportunity to delve into the work of Jacques Villeglé, one of the main representatives of the Affichistes, who kept a distance from painting and adopted the logic of assemblage, as well as Francois Dufrene, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse.

The exhibition has been organized in an educational way, with texts and interviews about the movement and with the idea of revealing the direct relationship of the movement with Pop Art as well as with Dada and Marcel Duchamp himself.

Martial Raysse (1936- ), Metro (or j’M), 1964

The exhibition Nouveau réalisme, brings together more than 50 works and justifies the instinct of basil and Elise Goulandris who honored in their collection the movement of new realism with works by Christo, Saint Phalle, Tinguely and especially César, who was also their personal friend.

The scenography of the exhibition was studied by Andreas Georgiadis and Paraskevi Gerolymatou.

The tribute is accompanied by a bilingual volume of about 300 pages, with texts by curator Maria Koutsomalli-Moreau and rich archival material, published by the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation curated by Mikri Arktos. During the exhibition there will be special guided tours for the public as well as educational programs for children and adults.

Duration of exhibition:

January 11 – April 9, 2023

Opening hours:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday: 10.00-18.00, Friday: 10.00-20.00

Tuesday closed

Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation

13 Eratosthenous Str., Athens 116 35

T: + 30 210 725 2895

[email protected] |

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