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A Movement, A Period

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New Realism


nouvrea1.jpg (18152 octets)


Daniel Spoerri, Repas hongrois (Hungarian Meal, Trap-picture)
César, Ricard
Arman, Chopin's Waterloo



New Realism: a poetic recycling of reality

The Artists and Their Works
Arman, Chopin’s Waterloo, 1962
César, Ricard, 1962
Raymond Hains, Panneau d’affichage (Billboard), 1960
Yves Klein, Monochrome bleu (Monochrome Blue) (IKB 3), 1960
Daniel Spoerri, Repas hongrois, tableau-piège (Hungarian Meal, Trap-picture), 1963
Martial Raysse, Soudain l'été dernier (Suddenly Last Summer), 1963
Niki de Saint Phalle, Crucifixion, 1963
Jean Tinguely, Baluba, 1961-1962





This dossier forms part of the series A Movement, a Period.
These dossiers are shaped around a selection of works from the main movements and tendencies represented in the collections of the National Museum of Modern Art.

Each of these dossiers includes
- a general introduction which will present and situate the role of the movement in a historical, geographical and aesthetic context
- a selection of the most representative works from the Museum's collections, contained in individual files each with notes, a reproduction and a biography of each artist,
- a chronology.

There are more than 59,000 works in the Museum's collections.
The Museum regularly varies the works on show in the exhibition spaces on the 4th and 5th levels of the Pompidou Centre. The educational dossiers have links set up to these new hangs.
To know more about the museum collections :



New Realism: a poetic recycling of reality

Nouveau Réalisme, New Realism, was founded in October 1960 with a joint declaration whose signatories were Yves Klein, Arman, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Pierre Restany, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques de la Villeglé; in 1961 these were joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, then Niki de Saint Phalle and Gerard Deschamps.

These artists declared that they had come together on the basis of a new awareness of their "collective singularity". For all the diversity of their plastic language, they did indeed perceive a common basis for their work, this being a method of direct appropriation of reality, equivalent, in the terms used by Pierre Restany, to a "poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality" (60/90. Trente ans de Nouveau Réalisme, La Différence, 1990, p 76).

Their group activity and the exhibitions they mounted together covered the period from 1962 to 1963, but the history of New Realism continued at least up until 1970, the year of the group's tenth anniversary, which was marked by the organisation of large-scale events.

Much as this new awareness of a "collective singularity" was decisive, their grouping was clearly motivated by the intervention and the theoretical input of the art critic Pierre Restany. Being first interested by abstract art, he moved towards the elaboration of a sociological aesthetic after his meeting with Klein in 1958, and in large part the group's theoretical justification was his.

The term Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) was forged by Pierre Restany during an early group exhibition in May 1960. By returning to "realism" as a category, he was referring to the 19th-century artistic and literary movement which aimed to describe ordinary everyday reality without any idealisation. Yet, this realism was "new", in the sense that there was a Nouveau Roman in fiction and a New Wave in film: in the first place it connects itself to the new reality deriving from an urban consumer society, in the second place its descriptive mode is also new because it no longer is identified with a representation through the making of an appropriate image, but consists in the presentation of the object chosen by the artist.

It is also thanks to Pierre Restany that New Realism was defended on the international scene in the face of an emerging American art form, Pop Art, and financially supported by a network of dealers and collectors.

• Link to  Pop Art dossier



The Artists and Their Works

Most of these texts are extracts or edited versions from the following works: La Collection, Musee national d'art moderne, Pompidou Centre, Paris, 1987, and La Collection, Acquisitions, 1986-1996, Pompidou Centre, Paris, 1996.


1928, Nice

Arman, Chopin's Waterloo, 1962
Fragments of piano fixed onto a wooden panel
186 x 302 x 48 cm 

Among the objects used by Arman, it is indisputably musical instruments that have given rise to the most frequent manipulations : rages, cutting up, accumulations, combustions, bronze castings and assemblages.
Arman actually explains his aggressivity towards musical instruments in terms of a negative personal experience. Thus Chopin's Waterloo was made for an exhibition with the title Musical Rage at the Saqqarah Gallery in Gstaad in 1962. At the opening Arman publicly destroyed an upright piano by hitting it with a sledgehammer, then fixed the wrecked components to a panel prepared in advance.

Coming in the wake of the previous year's double-bass rage during the shooting of a film for US television, and the public destruction of a piece of Henri II furniture during the First Festival of New Realism in 1961, this action illustrates the upsurge in Happenings within the avant-garde and especially their influence on the American Pop Artists and the European New Realists.
Nonetheless, as Jan van der Marck has observed, "we ought to bear in mind that the action was secondary, and what interested Arman was the result". It has been preserved as a work, as a frozen experience, like Spoerri's Trap-pictures.

According to Arman, the formal structure of the objects destroyed in the rages determines the aesthetic of the work and endows it with either a Baroque or a Cubist character depending on whether curves or straight lines are predominant. Thus Chopin's Waterloo belongs to the series of "Cubist" works, recalling, irrespective of the materials employed, the line of descent between his work and the inventors of pasted paper and assemblage, something with which he has always shown himself to be preoccupied.


Armand Fernandez took up art studies at the School of Decorative Arts in Nice in 1946, then continued at the Louvre in Paris, from 1949 to 1951. Meanwhile, he had become friends with Yves Klein, whom he met at a judo class. The latter introduced him to the critic Pierre Restany and they formed the New Realists group in 1960.

His first paintings, the Cachets, composed abstract images using the imprint of objects soaked in ink, until the day when he became aware that the object itself could be even more significant than its transferred image.
This was the start of his project of Accumulations, which assembled large quantities of identical objects melted inside Plexiglas. The accumulation is the presiding principle of the series of Dustbins, some of which managed to take on the role of a portrait, for example of Yves Klein, this being personalised by the presence of blue objects.
This business of the accumulation of waste was taken to its paroxysm during the Full exhibition, at the Galerie Iris Clert in 1960 ; here Arman, who was always very close to his friend Klein, was responding to the procedures of the Void exhibition in the same gallery two years earlier.

In parallel with his Accumulations of everyday objects, and the formation of a vast collection of African art, there is another artistic operation with which the name of Arman is associated: the Rages, acts of vandalism frequently carried out in public on objects whose fragments are reassembled to form a picture. Since the 1970s, Arman's art has become well-known through his monumental sculptures, such as Long Term Parking, made in 1982 for the Fondation Cartier Park at Jouy-en-Josas, a work composed of sixty cars piled up in a concrete matrix.

To find out more about Arman


1921, Marseille - 1998, Paris

César, Ricard, 1962
Manipulated compression of an automobile
153 x 73 x 65 cm 

By emphasising "the discovery of industrial and urban nature", and by placing these works within a world of technology, Pierre Restany underplayed the formalist aspect of these parallelepiped masses which anticipate the experiments of minimalist sculptures by some two years. In fact it is the form of the Compression, in other words the relationship of its proportions and its "skin", that was to have most importance for César when in 1961 he began to refine the idea of Manipulated Compression, to which Ricard is connected.

Through the choice of materials which form the load, their character, their colour and the knowledge of the process of compression, he was quickly able to predict the effects achieved by the machine and to reintroduce his own creative awareness into a seemingly impersonal mechanism.
Like these Compressions, derived from the fortuitous discovery of an American press owned by a scrap metal merchant at Gennevilliers from whom César bought the materials for making his sculptures, the Expansions were to arise from the discovery of a chemical process being tested for making human imprints.


César Albertini studied first at the School of Fine Arts in Marseille and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris until 1948, where he was trained in traditional sculpture techniques. When his studies ended, he broke with academic techniques, initially for economic reasons, and produced works with scrap metal using arc welding. These sculptures were exhibited for the first time in 1954 and formed César's first solo exhibition at the Galerie Lucien Durand in Paris.

The most emblematic of his works are the Compressions, which he began producing in 1958, first employing sheets of undifferentiated metal, then using cars which he compacted into rectangular blocks. This aleatory procedure, which effaces the subjectivity of the artist for the sake of machine anonymity, along with the reference to Duchamp's ready-mades in terms of the work's raw material, made him one of the protagonists of New Realism at its foundation. However, César very quickly mastered the technique of the Compressions, which enabled him to give shape to this work, culminating in the famous parallelepipeds, the Césars, which are given in the cinema awards.

In parallel with the Compressions, during the Sixties, César returned to bronze-making techniques to produce human figures or parts of the human body, like The Thumb (Le Pouce). In counterpoint to the Compressions, in 1967 he produced his first Expansion; it involved allowing a polyurethane mousse to spread freely, this then quickly solidifying.


Raymond Hains
1926, Saint-Brieuc

Raymond Hains, Panneau d’affichage (Billboard), 1960
Torn posters on panel of galvanised sheet metal
200 x 150 cm 

This piece, made of sheet metal and shreds of slashed posters, is a billboard. The title and the object cover the same material reality, in which the artist's "non-action" operates as a matter of choice and designation : "my works existed before me, but people didn't see them because they were eye-blinding". "The sheet-metal period" follows Hains's discovery in 1958 of the Bompaire warehouse where this was stocked. He was gripped by the idea of the underlying support breaking through the surface, modifying perceptions of design/background : "I liked this at the level of the colours. I am quite fond of the grey of galvanised sheet metal (...). I was closer to informal painting than when I was gathering up posters".

Panneau d’affichage also makes reference to other sources. It is a re-appropriated object, reminiscent of Duchamp's ready-mades. The negative action of slashing which proceeds, unlike painting, through a removal of matter in a simultaneous taking hold of colour and form, is reminiscent of Matisse's paper cut-outs. Panneau d’affichage also brings to mind the mechanism used by Hains to produce his abstract photographs : "The chromium-plated sheet metal on which the proofs are glazed in itself provokes a rediscovery of the appearance of things (...). It is possible to push distortion to a point where the object can no longer be discerned". Here Hains's analogical poetics formulates one of its perceptive enigmas, the literal illustration of the moment when "the photograph becomes the object".

More generally, Hains's practice and thematics have a reference in photography. Thus Lyrisme à la sauvette and Flagrant Dali mimic Henri Cartier-Bresson and La France déchirée (a collection of political posters torn by passers-by) use the style of reportage.


Raymond Hains entered the Rennes School of Fine Arts in 1945 to study sculpture, but he stayed only six months, enough time for him to meet Jacques de la Villeglé, another future poster-artist from the New Realist group. He then began making photographs with the use of distorting lenses which give the object an exploded image. These photographs were exhibited in 1947, as his first solo exhibition, at the Galerie Colette Allendy in Paris.

Over the next few years, Hains re-employed this procedure to make experimental films; it was during one shoot in 1949, when he thought of filming posters stuck on street walls, that he had the idea of appropriating them.
Together with Jacques de la Villeglé, he collected advertising posters torn by anonymous hands on the streets of Paris. But it was only in 1957 that he showed the result of their finds, again at the Galerie Colette Allendy, in an exhibition titled Loi du 29 juillet 1881 (Law of 29 July 1881), this being a reference to the legislation governing the right to put up public posters.

After the formation of the New Realist group in 1960, Hains continued exhibiting torn posters, along with fellow poster-artists Villeglé, Dufrêne and Rotella.
In 1959, he also started collecting posters on their underlying support of wood or metal, which enabled him to set up a dialogue between the background and the colours of the image.

Raymond Hains: "Mon Encyclopédie Clartés" a site set up for the Raymond Hains exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, from 27 June to 3 September 2001


Yves Klein
1928, Nice - 1962, Paris

Yves Klein, Monochrome Bleu (Monochrome Blue) (IKB 3), 1960
Pure pigment and synthetic resin on canvas mounted on wood
199 x 153 cm

"Blue has no dimension, it is outside dimension, while the other colours do have one. They are pre-psychological spaces... All the colours bring associations of concrete ideas... while blue at the most brings to mind the sea and the sky, what is anyway most abstract in tangible and visible nature".

The chemical refinement of this distinction, the blue patented by the artist under the name of International Klein Blue, ushered in his "Epoca blu". The variety of media, formats and textures of the 194 monochromes produced by Klein between 1955 in 1962 enables us to place the canvas IKB 3 quite specifically. Its dimensions make it part of the series of 15 IKB monochromes measuring "2m x 1m50", painted between 1960 in 1961.

Because of their unusual dimensions, "a height not much taller than the average spectator and a width less than the span of the arms", these canvases "are some of the flattest paintings ever made". Here Klein deploys a procedure which operates invasively through the tactile capture of the gaze. The blue of IKB 3 achieves a degree of powderiness in the pigment which is simultaneously compact and sensitive to the faintest breath ; it shifts to violet-shaded phosphorescences and gives materiality to the "colour of space itself", which alone can compete with the "void".


Although both his parents had been artists, Yves Klein was not immediately drawn to an artistic career. Though he painted spontaneously throughout his adolescence, he made this subordinate to his other activities.

In 1947, he began learning judo, a method of intellectual and moral training whose objective was self-mastery. During one of his first lessons he met Armand Fernandez, the future Arman. In 1952 he went to Japan for advanced training and came back a fourth dan blackbelt, a grade no other Frenchman had attained at that time. He intended to teach judo.  Since the French Judo Federation refused to recognise his diploma, in 1955 he opened his own school which he decorated in monochrome colours. Money problems compelled him to close it down the following year.

In 1947, Yves Klein had also discovered the mysticism of the Rosicrucians. From that date on he painted monochromes with the purpose of making them cult objects, and regularly read the Cosmogonie, a founding text of the order, which taught knowledge through the imagination, regarded as the most potent of the human faculties. For this reason, when, in 1958, he read the book L'Air et les songes by the philosopher Gaston Bachelard, he found in it an echo of his own thinking.

In 1955 he exhibited monochromes of different colours under the title Yves, paintings, at the Club des solitaires in Paris. There he met the art critic Pierre Restany and his career as a painter was launched. In 1957 he embarked on his "blue period", a colour choice which confirmed his discovery, on a trip to Assisi, of Giotto's skies, and his recognition of Giotto as the precursor of blue monochrome in its uniformity and spirituality. The blue found by Klein was made official in 1960 when he took out a patent on his formula under the name IKB.
From this date on he became a world-famous artist, which enabled him to co-found New Realism while pursuing his own personal experiments.

• Links with the Klein dossier


Daniel Spoerri
1930, Galati, Romania

Daniel Spoerri, Repas hongrois, tableau-piège (Hungarian Meal, Trap-picture) 1963
Assemblage. Metal, glass, porcelain, fabric on painted chipboard
103 x 205 x 33 cm  

Repas hongrois is the result of a singular event, the "exhibition" 723 Kitchen Utensils, organised by Spoerri at the Galerie J. in Paris from 2 to 13 March 1963. In the gallery, which was converted into a restaurant, dishes prepared by Spoerri - who also happened to be a great cook - were served by famous critics. Once they had eaten their fill, the guests constructed their own Trap-pictures by affixing the leftovers of their meal.

Repas hongrois was served by the art critic Jean-Jacques Lévêque on 9 March 1963. The leftovers of each meal were fixed to the table where it had been consumed, then the table, now a Trap-picture, was fixed to the wall.
This was the first attempt at a collective work of art that would be metaphorical and sacred, humorous and morbid : "the artist at the stove and the critic serving the soup", a communion around the Paschal meal... The experience of banquets and meals has now been repeated countless times, happenings producing so many works of art.

The initiator of what he called Eat Art, Spoerri built many different types of works around this concept (groceries guaranteed as works of art with a rubber stamp, objects in bread dough...). The Trap-pictures are the most frequent and most surprising expression of this.


Daniel Isaak Feinstein, later Daniel Spoerri from his uncle's name, spent his childhood in Switzerland where, at a very young age, he formed a friendship with Jean Tinguely. He first began a career as a dancer in Zurich and Paris; in Bern he was principal dancer until 1957.

In 1960, while he was collecting scrap metal for Tinguely, he got the idea of fixing the randomly gathered objects to a support which he set upright, thereby turning the fleeting haphazard arrangement into something enduring. This was the birth of his Trap-pictures, which for the most part immortalise the leftovers of meals, as in the case of the Repas hongrois and other dinners from the 723 Kitchen Utensils exhibition. This project culminated in Spoerri's opening of a permanent restaurant in Düsseldorf in 1968.

In parallel with the Trap-pictures, Spoerri developed the idea of the détrompe-l'oeil, works in which he combines a classic illusionist picture, a "chromo", with objects whose function is to demystify this image and relegate it to the status of commonplace object.
Daniel Spoerri currently lives in Tuscany, where he has set up his own foundation, which includes a sculpture park.

Daniel Spoerri's site


Martial Raysse
1936, Golfe-Juan

Martial Raysse, Soudain l’été dernier (Suddenly Last Summer), 1963
Assemblage : photograph with acrylic paint and objects
100 x 225 cm 

The theme of the female bather has appeared in Martial Raysse's work since 1960. Etalage-Hygiène de la vision n°1 (Hygiene of Vision no 1) set up for the first time a life-size photo of a young woman in a swimming costume holding a parasol on top of a display of sunscreen products and beach toys. From 1962 to 1965, Raysse frequently reused this "visual cliche" in which he attempted to show what unsuspected magic and feeling can reside in "bad taste" (what he called "this dream of a beauty excessively desired").

Working through a restructuring of the image across different planes, through the use of colour - both spray paint and brush - in artificial tints which are arbitrarily separated, and rounded off with real objects (here a straw hat and a bath towel), Raysse takes his subject from photographic illusionism and perspectival space, and likewise the discourse of representation that they entail.

This thorough emptying out of the figurative conventions liberates latent forces in the image: monumentalised, articulated and deployed in three dimensions (the real objects humorously anchor it to reality), Raysse's female bather receives a new life from nostalgic borrowing, which the title, a reference to Tennessee Williams, accentuates all the more. Sharply highlighted by its acid fluorescences, it becomes radiance and ideal object of desire.


After literary studies, in 1959 Martial Raysse made his first assemblages by enclosing small toys and toiletries in transparent boxes, in order to foreground, unfussily, the charge of emotion and visual intensity these cold little objects can hold.

In 1960, his Visual Hygiene series of household implements hung around a long-handled scrubbing brush, or sunscreen products and beach toys crowned by an advertising dummy, ushered into the realm of art "a world that is new, antiseptic and pure", that of the supermarkets and advertising for the consumer society.

This reappropriation of objects that are supremely banal aligned him with the experiments of Arman, Spoerri and Tinguely, with whom he founded the New Realists group in 1960. Soon regarded as the young French artist who came closest to American Pop Art, between 1961 in 1966 Raysse participated in numerous artistic events throughout Europe and the United States.

After 1968, Raysse underwent a shift which led him to make a sudden break with the circuit of dealers and galleries, and to withdraw to the south of France. Within the community he formed with a number of friends, he made works using craft techniques, and subsequently returned to the most traditional modes of painting.


Niki de Saint Phalle
1930, Neuilly-sur-Seine - 2002, San Diego, California

Niki de Saint Phalle, Crucifixion, 1963
Fabric pasted over an armature of wire mesh and various affixed objects
240 x 150 x 60 cm 

This crucified woman with her cut-off arms and ecstatic face, expresses all the ambiguity that Niki de Saint Phalle discerns in the female condition.
She is at one and the same time a mother, as shown by the toys she wears on her chest; a whore whose open legs allow the sight of black wool pubes; and a "granny" with rollers in her hair.
Perhaps with this work Niki de Saint Phalle is offering an image of woman as an unknown martyr.

However, the macabre tone of this piece is contrasted by the brightly coloured patchwork fabrics in which the figure is dressed like a mannequin. This "feminine work", as it is described by Pierre Descargues, the art critic and friend of Niki de Saint Phalle, heralds the forthcoming appearance of the famous Nanas, which, like the Crucifixion or La Mariée (the Bride) (Musée national d’art moderne), overlay female fragility and flirtatiousness on the character of woman as ogress.


Niki de Saint Phalle spent her childhood in New York, only returning to Paris in 1951. At this point she was painting naive canvases akin to the style of art brut, for the therapeutic purpose of overcoming serious psychological disturbances.

After meeting Jean Tinguely, she joined the New Realist group in 1961 and embarked upon work of quite a different character. She made objects in plaster on which pouches of paint were hung ; the public were invited to shoot at them with rifles and the works were thereby coloured by virtue of the skill (or otherwise) of those shooting. The violence underlying this approach parodied that of Abstract Expressionism, in particular Pollock's Action Painting. The first of these experiments, in which her American friends Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg took part, was organised at the Galerie J, under the title Feu à volonté (Fire at Will) in 1961.

At the same time, she began constructing human figures such as La Mariée or Crucifixion by assembling waste materials. By using everyday objects, she was working in the spirit of the New Realists, but her sensibility made her inclined to use these objects as the means to express a psychological reality repressed by social constraints. In 1964, returning to the essentially female iconography of her human figures, she produced the first of her Nanas, made of papier-mâché or plastic, painted with extremely vivid colours and sometimes on a monumental scale. For example, in collaboration with Tinguely, for the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1966 she constructed a reclining Nana 25 metres long, which visitors could enter to see installations and films.

She subsequently built a large number of sculptures intended for public spaces, with a variety of themes which were sometimes close to Pre-Colombian or Indian cultures, as in the case of the Stravinsky Fountain which she made in 1982 with Tinguely.

• To find out more about Niki de Saint Phalle  


Jean Tinguely
1925, Fribourg - 1991, Bern

Jean Tinguely, Baluba, 1961-1962
Installation with movement
Metal, wire, plastic objects, feather duster, barrel, motor
187 x 56.5 x 45 cm 

Shortly after the New Realist group was founded, Tinguely produced the Baluba series, in which he made use of all sorts of everyday objects, such as plastic toys, animal furs and scrap metal junk.

These works exist in an aesthetic atmosphere comparable with that of Spoerri's Trap-pictures or Arman's Dustbins. Tinguely makes them a kind of parody of classical sculpture, using industrial tin cans as plinths and carefully arranging the components, here topped with a feather duster as a head-dress.

But when spectators step on the control pedal and the sculpture is set in motion, they can watch a joyful celebration in which all of these suspended components are shaking in every direction. What seemed incomplete and unsatisfying when motionless, when animated becomes a bizarre enchantment of sorts, as another of Tinguely's essential works would be not long after this : Le Ballet des pauvres (Poor Ballet).


After studies at the Basel School of Decorative Arts from 1941 to 1945, Jean Tinguely began constructing wire sculptures which were close in spirit to Surrealism. In 1951, he married the sculptor Eva Aeppli. After meeting Daniel Spoerri, who was then a dancer, in 1953 he created a kinetic decor for one of his ballets. This piece of work anticipated his construction of pictures made up of painted reliefs with some moving parts, which Tinguely exhibited in Paris for the first time at the Galerie Arnaud in 1954. Gradually, he introduced moving objects into his compositions, such as hammers, which gave a sound dimension to his work.

After moving to Paris, he joined the group of kinetic artists around the Galerie Denise René, and got to know Yves Klein, with whom he put together an exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert in 1958, Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome (Pure Speed and Monochrome Stability). It was through Yves Klein that he became involved in New Realism, bringing Spoerri with him.

From 1959, he became frenetically taken up with devising machines, chiefly machines for abstract drawing or painting. But the machine which made him world famous to this day is his giant self-destructive construction, Hommage à New York (Homage to New York), set up in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in March 1960. This was the opportunity for Marcel Duchamp to compose one of his best aphorisms:

"Si la scie scie la scie
Et si la scie qui scie la scie
Est la scie que scie la scie
Il y a Suissscide métallique".

(If the saw saws the saw
And if the saw that saws the saw
Is the saw sawed by the saw
There is metallic Sawisscide)

While participating in the collective activities of the New Realists, Tinguely increasingly responded to commissions for public monuments. These can be seen, for example, in the Forest of Fontainebleau (The Cyclops), in Geneva or Basel, or else in Paris, where the Stravinsky Fountain was made in collaboration with his companion Niki Saint Phalle.

• The web site of the Tinguely Museum  in Basel
• On The Cyclops   the monument in the Forest of Fontainebleau




The art critic Pierre Restany meets Yves Klein at the Club des Solitaires in Paris, where the artist's first solo show has been put on. Klein is showing monochromes in different colours. He introduces Arman, a childhood friend, to Restany, then Hains and Tinguely...

At the Galerie Iris Clert, Yves Klein presents the Void exhibition : no works are on show and the gallery's white picture rails merely invite visitors to contemplate "the spatialisation of sensibility". The catalogue's introduction is written by Pierre Restany. Arman's Full exhibition in 1960 will be a response to this event: this time the Galerie Iris Clert will have its window filled with refuse.

In May, at the Apollinaire gallery in Milan, Pierre Restany sets up the first group exhibition, bringing together Arman, Hains, Dufrêne, Yves the Monochrome (Klein), Villeglé and Tinguely. On this occasion he composes a text introducing the catalogue with the title "Les Nouveaux Réalistes"; it is the first time this term appears in Restany's writing, and this text is regarded as the first manifesto of the group (there will be three in all).
On 27 October, at the home of Yves Klein, Arman, Dufrêne, Hains, Raysse, Restany, Spoerri, Tinguely and Villeglé sign nine copies of the statement constituting the New Realist group, thereby affirming their "collective singularity".
César and Rotella are invited to the meeting but are unable to attend, while Niki de Saint Phalle and Deschamps are to join the group in 1961.

Jeannine Restany opens the Galerie J, which will now be the group's favoured exhibition space. For the opening Pierre Restany organises the exhibition À 40º au-dessus de Dada (40º above Dada). His introduction to the catalogue, establishing a kinship between the New Realists and the non-art of Dada and Duchamp, is regarded as the second manifesto of the movement.
In July, the First Festival of New Realism is held in Nice (where Klein and Arman come from), with a group exhibition, public action-spectacles and a recital of phonetic poems by Rotella.
The exhibition The Art of Assemblage is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with the participation of Arman, Dufrêne, Hains, Rotella, Villeglé and Spoerri.

On 6 June, Yves Klein dies of a heart attack.
In October, the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York puts on the exhibition The New Realists, in which the European New Realist artists are presented as the partial precursors of an artistic advance which flowers fully only with the Pop Art artists.

In Munich, the Second Festival of New Realism takes place, in the course of which Christo joins the group. The introduction to the catalogue written by Pierre Restany, "Le Nouveau Réalisme? Que faut-il en penser?" ("New realism?  What are we to make of it?") is regarded as the third and final manifesto of the movement.
At the 4th San Marino Biennale the last of the group's collective activities is presented (aside from the commemoration of the birth of New Realism which will be held in 1970).

The Grand Jury Prize at the 34th Venice Biennale is awarded to Robert Rauschenberg, a sign of the new ascendancy of American art over European art. A room is devoted to the works of Rotella.

In Milan, the New Realists put on a series of events to celebrate their tenth anniversary, with an exhibition, The New Realists 1960/1970, action-spectacles in the city and, finally, a funeral banquet for which Spoerri has made for each member of the group an edible representation of their work.




You can consult the French version of the dossier Le Nouveau Réalisme

- Extracts from a text by Pierre Restany : À 40º au-dessus de Dada, the introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition, at Galerie J, 8 rue Montfaucon, Paris 6e, 17 May-10 June 1961,

- a selective bibliography : essays on New Realism and exhibition catalogues.



Pour consulter les autres dossiers sur les collections du Musée national d'art moderne
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© Centre Pompidou, Direction de l'action éducative et des publics, April 2005
Update : August, 2007
Development : Florence Morat
Documentation, Editing : Vanessa Morisset
Translated by Liz Heron
Graphic Design : Michel Fernandez, Aleth Vinchon
Coordination : Marie-José Rodriguez