Raymond Hains is a french artist born in Saint-Brieuc (Côtes-d'Armor, France) on 9 November 1926. He died in Paris on 28 October 2005. He studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Rennes before coming to Paris to present his first exhibition of “hypnagogical” photographs and starting a body of work with torn posters found in the streets. In 1960 he signs, along with Arman, Dufrêne, Klein, Tinguely and Villeglé and Pierre Restany, the manifesto of the New Realism. However he distanced himself from this movement to develop his own line of research through the tools of language, analogy, chance and coincidence, revealing the hidden connections between these disparate elements. From the 50s onwards, Hains took part in several exhibitions and international events such as the “Documenta IV” in Kassel, the first Biennale of Paris, the first exhibitions of The New Realism in Milan and Paris, the exhibitions “Paris-Paris” and “Paris-New York” at the Centre Georges-Pompidou and “Westkunst” and “Bilderstreit” in Cologne. His works have been presented in several museums in France and abroad. He was awarded the Kurt Schwitters Prize in 1997. Several famous art critics have written about him and many books have been devoted to his name.
Hains was born in Dinard. In 1945, he briefly enrolled in the sculpture course at the École des Beaux-Arts, Rennes and met Jacques de la Villeglé that same year. He then collaborated with E. Sougez as a photographer for France-Illustration. In 1946-47 he did his first abstract photographs (Photographies hypnagogiques) inspired by Surrealism using mirrors or taken through deforming glass, which were shown in Paris in 1948. In 1950, he invented the concept of the "Ultra-lettre" and devoted himself to his lettres éclatées (shattered letters).
In the 1950s, together with fellow affichiste Jacques de la Villeglé he started using collage and found, torn posters from street advertisements in creating Ultra-Lettrist psychogeographical hypergraphics. This neo-Dadaist spirit would inform the rest of his career. In 1957, he exhibited his torn posters in Paris. In 1959, he exhibited at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and was represented at the first Paris Biennale. In 1960, he exhibited an illustration from the Encyclopédie Clartés at the Salon Comparaisons (he was known as "Raymond the Abstract") and travelled to Italy. In 1960, he signed the manifesto of Nouveau Réalisme with Jacques de la Villeglé and Yves Klein; they would later be joined by artists Daniel Spoerri, Arman and Martial Raysse. The "New Realism" movement would -- like Pop art in New York -- praise and criticize the mass-produced consumer object in assemblages and installations. In 1961, he was represented at the exhibition Bewogen Beweging, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, also shown at Stockholm and Humblebaek, and at The Art of Assemblage, Museum of Modern Art, New York, later shown at Dallas and San Francisco. He distanced himself from "Nouveau Réalisme" in 1963. In 1964, he was represented at the Venice Biennale. His torn posters were shown at the Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, in 1965. In 1964, he invented the artists Seita and Saffa--their names are taken from French and Italian National tobacco companies, respectively--and attributed a body of work to them, including the giant book of matches first shown in Paris in 1965. With Seita and Saffa, Hains created an artistic fiction resulting in a range of products located somewhere between Pop art and ironic capitalist enterprise.Between 1968 and 1971 he lived in Venice. He showed three very enlarged books of matches at the documenta "4" in Kassel. He returned to Paris in 1971.
Hains won the Kurt Schwitters prize in 1997. For Documenta X, invited by curator Catherine David in 1997, Hains exhibited in a Kassel shop rather than at the Fredericianum. He also organized a street parade that traveled through the city, led by a larger-than-life-size mannequin of the late Iris Clert, Hains's gallerist and a towering figure in the Paris art world of the 1960s. Towards the end of his life, Hains exhibited on various occasions at Galerie W in Montmartre. He died in Paris at the age of 78.
Major solo exhibitions
- 2003 La boîte à fiches, Musée Art et Histoire, Saint-Brieuc, Fr
- 2002 Raymond Hains : Art Speculator, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, US
- 2002 Réquichot Dado Rochaïd Dada, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, Fr
- 2001 Raymond Hains. La Tentative, Musée National d’Art Moderne / Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Fr
- 1998 Brève rencontre avec Raymond Hains. Documenta X, quai Voltaire, Galerie de la Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, 13 quai Voltaire et vitrines du quai Voltaire, Paris, Fr
- 1995 Raymond Hains, Akzente 1949-1995 / Accents 1949-1995, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, Austria
- 1995 Raymond Hains, Gast auf der Durchreise, Portikus, Frankfurt, Ge
- 1994 Les 3 Cartier. Du Grand Louvre aux 3 Cartier, Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art, Paris, Fr
- 1986 Hommage au marquis de Bièvre, Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art, Jouy-en-Josas, Fr
- 1976 La chasse au CNAC, Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, Fr
- 1976 L'Art à Vinci, Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, Fr
- 1973 HAINS – SAFFA – SEITA, Galleria della Trinità, Roma, It
- 1970 SAFFA, Galleria Blu, Milan, It
- 1968 La Biennale éclatée, Galleria L'Elefante, Mestre, It
- 1968 Documenta IV, Kassel, Ge
- 1965 SEITA & SAFFA, copyright by Raymond Hains, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, Fr
- 1964 SAFFA et SEITA, Galleria del Leone, Venice, It
- 1964 La Biennale déchirée di Raymond Hains, Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, It
- 1961 La France déchirée, avec Jacques Villeglé, Galerie J, Paris, Fr
- 1957 Loi du 29 juillet 1881 ou Le Lyrisme à la sauvette, with Jacques Villeglé, Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, Fr
- 1948 Photographies hypnagogiques, Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, Fr
- Raymond Hains : " Mon Encyclopédie Clartés website conceived for the Centre Pompidou exhibition in 2001