in Nice, sunshine and contemporary art

Sixty years ago the first New Realism festival took place in Nice, bringing together, among others, Yves Klein, Arman, Niki de Saint Phalle, Martial Raysse and Daniel Spoerri. A few months earlier, these young people and a few others were meeting in their “Collective singularity” to reject the “Easel painting” and make the bet of “The fascinating adventure of the real perceived in oneself” and some “Pure sensitivity”, as the art critic and theorist of New Realism, Pierre Restany, wrote at the dawn of the 1960s.

A former star dancer at the Bern Opera, Spoerri, a Romanian refugee in Switzerland during the war and settled in Paris in 1959, has the idea of ​​gluing objects collected in bulk on a support that he straightens vertically, thus fixing the arrangement of a moment due to chance. « This is the birth of trap paintings, which immortalize flea market stalls, then meal scraps ”, explains Rébecca François, curator of this exhibition at Mamac, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice.

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In this “French museum of New Realists”, she recalls, this monograph by Spoerri, who today divides his time between his garden in Tuscany and his foundation in Vienna, Austria, was « indispensable ». It is presented as a ” a stroll as surprising and fascinating as that of a fun fair “ among nearly 300 works and documents, from the first trap paintings to cabinets of curiosities such as the artist’s “sentimental museums”.

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At the heart of the route: Eat Art, a trend invented by Spoerri and celebrated here notably by an immersion in his first ephemeral restaurant, at the J gallery, in Paris, in 1963. Far from the shackles of the retrospective, the exhibition takes a look current on this historical work. Because Spoerri’s unique work resonates strongly today, both in his relationship to remains and scraps as well as in his multidisciplinary approach as a visual artist, dancer and performer or in the central place he gives to the collective adventure. and to the viewer.

“So many issues that are currently at the heart of artistic practices”, underlines Hélène Guenin, who, since her arrival in Nice in 2016, as the director of the museum, has multiplied the projects allowing “To offer new perspectives on the artistic adventure of the 1960s” – which constitutes the heart of the collection. On the occasion of the exhibition, several banquets imagined by Spoerri from 1963 will be organized with his collaboration. Enough to demonstrate the full vitality of his work. And put Nice, city of art and artists, in the foreground.

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