I’d never heard of this French artist when Mr French insisted we go see his show at the Pompidou last week. As we strolled through the fun, colorful collection of his art, I started learning more and more and today, I’d consider myself a fan.
Raysse was born in Vallauris, on the Côte d’Azur. The town was put on the international art scene when Picasso started collaborating with its thriving ceramics industry. Jean Cocteau was dran to the area, which is how he met Raysse. The two did a joint show together in 1958, when Raysse was only 22.
The young artist was fascinated by the Pop Art scene in New York and traveled there to meet the Warhol crowd before returning to France and founding the Nouveaux Réalistes with others, including Yves Klein, Christos and Niki de St Phalle. Their concept was “the poetic recycling of reality.” If you now the work of these artists, then Raysse draws on color as the primary source of power for his work.
If the artist bases his work on poetry, it is the Haiku, or Limerick. His work is short and sweet and a delight to take in, although I suspect that a lot of the fun was drug induced, particularly the short films he made with his friends.
The show is presented chronologically. His earliest work features plastics and garbage that has been recycled into art. Of course, in the 1950’s that was a fairly avant garde concept. But in 2014, my heart sank when I first entered the exhibition. Turning the corner, I saw some interesting neons and my attitude shifted, filling with a healthy curiosity to discover more.
Mr French loved the neon work, and a collection of 1950’s pin-ups that decorated a beach scene, with imported sand and a working jukebox.
I’m a sucker for interactive art, so I really got into the Moroccan tent with a true to scale palm tree and sand visitors can draw on. And then I loved, loved, loved a work called “Identity, Now you are a work by Martial Raysse,” which projects viewers into the work.
By the time we came upon his most recent work, a rapturous ode to youth, depicting Bacchus at play as a young boy, my heart was singing with joy and I was totally hooked. If art is what moves you, then this is great art, because that is exactly how I was feeling as I left the show. Great.