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 Martial Raysse  (1936 - )

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: conceptual, abstract portrait, collage and landscape images

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BIOGRAPHY for Martial Raysse
1936 (Golfe-Juan, France)

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conceptual, abstract portrait, collage and landscape images

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Martial Raysse is a French artist born in Golfe-Juan on 12 February 1936.  He lives in Issigeac - France.  Raysse was born in a ceramicist family in Vallauris and began to paint and write poetry at age 12.  After studying and practicing athleticism at a high level, he began to accumulate rubbish odds and ends that he preserved under plexiglas.  In 1958 he exhibited at Galerie Longchamp some of his paintings with Jean Cocteau.

Fascinated by the beauty of plastic, he plundered low-costs shops with plastic items and developed what became his "vision hygiene" concept; a vision that showcases consumer society. This work received success as in 1961, 15 minutes before an opening in Milan, all of his works were sold. He then traveled to the USA to get a closer exposure to pop art.

In October 1960, Martial Raysse, together with Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Jacques Villeglé and the art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany founded the group Nouveaux Réalistes.  The group was later joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo.  This group of artists defined themselves as bearing in common a "new perspective approaches of reality".  Their work was an attempt at reassessing the concept of art and the artist in the context of a 20th Century consumer society by reasserting the humanistic ideals] in the face of industrial expansion.

Raysse acted in Jean-Pierre Prévost's 1971 film Jupiter.  He then wrote and directed the 1972 film Le grand départ.


Biography from Tate Modern/Tate Gallery, London:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A French painter, Martial Raysse was a self-taught artist.  His early works were assemblages, which included plastic objects.  This appropriation of prefabricated materials led to his association with Nouveau réalisme.  Raysse exhibited a world, new, antiseptic and modern. His approach anticipated that of the Pop artists, who likewise used objects and images deriving from advertising.

During the 1960s Raysse began to make more pictorial compositions, based on images from advertising as well as on high art. He also produced paintings in which a deliberate roughness of execution is emphasized by the superimposition of a single neon line.  Raysse began at this time to create his own prototypes as another way of continuing to elevate bad taste and falsity to the level of art.

In the mid 1960s Raysse's work developed around a number of recurrent themes; in particular he concentrated on the contours of a portrait, a mouth or an eye, repeating them endlessly using all kinds of visual formulae, and drawing on the most diverse types of materials.

He gave up his pictorial explorations in the atmosphere of the events of 1968 in France. When he returned to painting, his work had undergone an important change. Little by little he moved away from the urban world towards a return to nature, a bucolic ideal of a gentle and calm community with reminiscences of Poussin and of mythology. He used pastel and tempera to depict timeless magical or fantastic scenes, anticipating the vogue for mythological subjects that appeared in the work of other painters in the 1980s.

?Martial Raysse, maître et esclave de l'imagination (exh. cat., Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus., 1965)
?Martial Raysse (exh. cat., Prague, N.G., ?ternberk Pal., 1969)?
Martial Raysse, 1970-1980 (exh. cat., Paris, Pompidou, 1981)?
Martial Raysse (exh. cat., Antibes, Mus. Picasso, 1982)

Article provided by Grove Art Online
Alfred Pacquement

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