Martial Raysse - Lévy Gorvy
  • Photo of Martial Raysse in his studio, Bergerac, 2017

    Martial Raysse in his studio, Bergerac, 2017. Photograph Jean-François Jaussaud. All works by Martial Raysse © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Martial Raysse

Martial Raysse

Martial Raysse was born on February 12, 1936 in Vallauris, France, to a family of ceramicists. His parents’ involvement in the French Resistance against the occupation of the Nazis had a profound impact on his childhood. As Raysse stated in 2000, “I know what it is like to be torn from my bed at 3 o’clock in the morning by the Gestapo.” His first creative experiences in poetry and fine art began at the age of 12. He went on to study literature at the University of Nice and attended the School of Decorative Arts run by François Bret, co-founder of the Peintre de Vingt Ans group, in the same city. In 1955, he met Ben Vautier and Arman in Nice at the Club des jeunes, an informal salon held in the basement of a brasserie. Introduced to Yves Klein through Arman, he began to pursue painting in earnest and had his first solo exhibition in 1958 at Galerie Vieil-Olivier on the Côte d’Azur. In 1960, at Klein’s apartment in Paris, he became one of the founding members of Nouveau Réalisme, a collective of artists led by critic Pierre Restany. Breaking with the lyrical, abstract styles then dominant in Paris, the nine artists present declared their commitment to “new perceptions of the real,” incorporating found objects and quotidian materials into their work in an attempt to blur the distinction between art and everyday life.

In 1962, Raysse traveled to New York, where he joined the bohemian artistic circle around the Chelsea Hotel, whose regulars included Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg. That year, alongside environments by Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and others, he debuted Raysse Beach at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Consisting of an inflatable pool, artificial palm trees, mannequins, radiant heat lamps, and sand, this immersive installation simulated an idyllic scene from the artist’s native French Riviera. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived and worked until 1968. Inspired by the city’s combination of sunshine and consumerist excess, his aesthetic gradually tended toward that of American Pop, whose embrace of new materials, media, and techniques, such as plastic, silkscreening, and filmic projection, paralleled his own. Declaring his commitment to a “hygiene of vision,” he filled his work with store-bought items, glamorous women, and bucolic landscapes: symbols of purity that engaged the period’s fascination with novelty and surface appearance.

Galvanized by the events of May 1968, a period marked by civil unrest and protests in France, Raysse returned to Paris to join the student-led demonstrations. Discouraged by the movement’s failure to enact revolutionary change, he declared his rupture with the official art world in 1970. Joining an artists’ commune, he experimented with collective forms of production and psychedelic themes, developing a series of small sculptures and assemblages titled after a hallucinogenic mushroom. In the late 1970s, he returned to painting in earnest, producing visionary tableaux that drew on a plethora of literary, pictorial, and cinematic references. His pursuit of large-scale formats grew over time, structured, all the while, by his fascination with artifice and his eclectic store of allusions. Increasingly drawn to sculpture, he executed multiple large-scale commissions for public spaces in France, including the Place du Marché in Nîmes and the Bibliothèque national de France in Paris. Exploring the comic, the cosmic, and the beautiful in equal measure, his works maintain a strong critical edge that calls both artistic conventions and established orders into question.

Raysse’s work is included in numerous important public collections, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.;  Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musée d’arts de Nantes; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. He participated in the Venice Biennales of 1966, 1976, and 1982. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale for Painting by the Japan Art Association. The first retrospective of his work was held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1965. Since then, major surveys of his work have been organized at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, in 1992; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 2014; and the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, in 2015.



Martial Raysse: VISAGES

April 25, 2018


Selected Press

NZZ | Englische Kunst-Aficionados stürmen das Pariser Grand Palais

October 22, 2019

Viele Stände mussten bereits nach dem ersten Messetag umgehängt werden, so etwa jener von Lévy Gorvy …

New York Times | Will Brexit Help France’s Flagging Art Market?

October 22, 2019

Lévy Gorvy is exhibiting at FIAC for the first time, choosing it over the Frieze Masters in London. …

New York Times | A Fair With a French Accent, Inside and Out

October 18, 2019

Newcomers include New York’s Lévy Gorvy, which Ms. Flay called “an important new arrival.” The …

Economie Matin | Pas de crise dans l’art contemporain, ne manques pas ce we la Fiac et le off

October 18, 2019

Avec ses 200 galeries installées dans le Grand Palais, la FIAC (38 euros l’entrée) constitue l’attraction …

Le Quotidien de l'Art | Our top 10 favourite booths

October 18, 2019

Martial Raysse was born on February 12, 1936 in Vallauris, France, to a family of ceramicists. His parents’ …

Blouin Artinfo | Top Art Shows in New York This Week

April 5, 2018

Blouin Artinfo curates a list of such must-see art shows in New York this week...

The Brooklyn Rail | Conversation: Martial Raysse

April 4, 2018

On the occasion of Martial Raysse’s exhibition of recent work at Lévy Gorvy, Alex Bacon sat down with …

Purple | An Interview with Martial Raysse

March 12, 2018

Somewhere between the guardrails of Pop Art and the Romantics, French painter Martial Raysse has quietly …

Artinfo | Top Art Shows in New York This Week

March 8, 2018

Martial Raysse was born on February 12, 1936 in Vallauris, France, to a family of ceramicists. His parents’ …

Art Daily | Lévy Gorvy opens exhibition of portraits by French artist Martial Raysse

March 1, 2018

Raysse is a self-taught artist who first achieved recognition as a painter in the late 1950s in Nice, …

France-Amérique | Martial Raysse: Visages

March 1, 2018

Raysse’s most recent portraits, while still executed in an intensive color palette, seek to convey …

The Art Newspaper | Three to see: New York

March 1, 2018

Visages at Lévy Gorvy (until 14 April) shows more than 20 recent paintings by the French self-taught …

Blouin Artinfo | Top Art Shows in New York This Week: Martial Raysse

February 22, 2018

The exhibition focuses on the subtleties of appearance, or visage and showcases over 20 recent paintings …

Frieze | ‘Grace, Beauty, Charm and Hotness’: the Obamas Unveil their Presidential Portraits

February 13, 2018

Lévy Gorvy represents French artist Martial Raysse in the US (with a show opening on 28 February …

Art Market Monitor | Artelligence for February 13, 2018

February 13, 2018

Lévy Gorvy Now Represent Martial Raysse in the US: The gallery will open a show of the proto-Pop painter’s …

ArtNet | Art Industry News

February 12, 2018

Lévy Gorvy to Represent Martial Raysse – The French artist Martial Raysse (born 1936), who has received an …

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