Raymond Hains

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Raymond Hains (9 November 1926 - 28 October 2005) was a French artist and photographer.

Biography[edit]

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.

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