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The Myth of Nouveau Realisme: Art and the Performative in Postwar Franceby Kaira M. Cabanas
Synopses & Reviews
On October 27, 1960, art critic Pierre Restany named a group of Paris-based artists the andldquo;Nouveaux Randeacute;alistesandrdquo; (New Realists) in a founding declaration that stated, andldquo;The New Realists recognize their collective singularity. New Realism = new perceptual approaches of the real.andrdquo; Besides Restany, this group included Arman, Franandccedil;ois Dufrandecirc;ne, Raymond Hains, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and Jacques Villeglandeacute;. Their work incorporated consumer objects and new media in response to the postwar periodandrsquo;s painterly modes and its burgeoning consumer and industrial society. However, they did not share a common avant-garde strategy.
The Myth of Nouveau Randeacute;alisme is a critical reassessment of this important neo-avant-garde movement. Kaira M. Cabaandntilde;as offers an interdisciplinary account of their work and challenges the ideas of Restany, who mandated a andldquo;direct appropriation of the real.andrdquo; Cabaandntilde;as posits that, for the Nouveaux Randeacute;alistes, realism engaged performative practices to produce alternative social meanings.
"This beautifully illustrated examination of the so-called Nouveaux Realistes revisits the organizing claims of contemporaneous critic Pierre Restany, holding that Restany's manifesto of Nouveau Realisme obscures or occludes many aspects of a thorny and complex group of art makers in an effort to capture a coherent set of practitioners within his movement. Cabanas, a lecturer at Columbia University, makes a case for reinterpreting this group (which includes Yves Klein, Raymond Hains and Jacques Villegle, Daniel Spoerri, and Jean Tinguely) according to their quiet, disparate praxis. She asserts that their most salient connection is the way in which each employs and manipulates performance as a tool of meaning-making, thereby troubling any simple relationship between conventional perception and reality. The political and social context shared by these artists is woven among the critical analysis, but by and large theory and analysis trump history. The study is engaging but dense and resolutely academic. Cabanas is not shy of intricate theoretical terminology and plants few guideposts for the casual reader. Picking through the resultant thickets is rewarding, but the book is not a Sunday stroll. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This critical reassessment of Nouveau Rand#233;alisme, one of the most important neo-avant-garde movements of postwar France, explores how realism functioned through the artistsand#8217; engagement with performative practices to produce alternative social meanings.and#160;
About the Author
Kaira M. Cabaandntilde;as is lecturer and the director of the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.
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