A new perceptive approach to the real.
- – Pierre Restany (1960)
Since its opening in September 1990, Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois has specialised in the research and collection of a rigorous selection of historic works by the Nouveaux Réalistes.
Nouveau Réalisme has never been a movement unified in style. For some, it is just a circumstantial grouping of artists whose existence was infinitely short. For others, there was not even a group but a sort of philosophy about art and its legacy still carries on today. […] Just as in Yves Klein’s oeuvre where his taste for practical jokes and his quest for the sublime are intermingled, multiple and contradictory ways of expression meet under the Nouveau Realist movement, which translate better than any single line of thought a strong wish from this generation of artists to re-think everything, to re-invent everything using the context and material of their time. […] Created by artists whose alliance is mainly based on a desire to fight the sclerosis induced by the structures of their time and to offer an alternative as joyful as possible to the submissive academism in the ways of expression – may it be painting or sculpture – , these objects, these works, these images do not fall under any global definition, and are not imprisoned in any dogma.
- – Catherine Francblin (1997)
On Thursday 27th October 1960 was signed the Constitutive Declaration of Nouveau Réalisme by Arman, Dufrêne, Hains, Klein, Tinguely, Villeglé and Restany in Yves Klein’s apartment. These artists were joined by César, Christo, Gérard Deschamps, Martial Raysse, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Daniel Spoerri. Although this movement had a very short lifespan – Arman believed it lasted roughly 20 minutes, others consider the premature death of Yves Klein in June 1962 as the end of the movement – its influence and its importance still live on, as can testify the numerous collective and individual retrospectives dedicated to these artists in the most important national museums.
A lot more than a “group” and a lot better than a “style”, the European Nouveau Réalisme now appears to be an open trend.
- – Pierre Restany (1963)
Today, we consider that the Nouveau Réalisme movement consists of thirteen members:
Niki de Saint Phalle
The gallery finds it interesting to compare their work with that of Jean-Pierre Raynaud and Alain Jacquet.
We should not be afraid to say it, Nouveau Réalisme was on many levels in advance compared to Pop Art, less entrenched in style disputes, less attached to the notion of authorship, sometimes more audacious in the composition, but most of all it carried a less ambiguous political project.
- – Nicolas Bourriaud (2005)
In addition to the permanent collection of works by this movement in the gallery, Georges Phillippe & Nathalie Vallois have regularly dedicated large exhibitions regarding the members of Nouveau Réalisme.
Thus in September – October 1991, the gallery presents the Bétons (1970-1974) by Arman. These works have only been shown once before by the M.A.M.V.P. (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) in 1976. Then, in April – May 1995, the gallery showed the Accumulations Renault, works created by Arman during his collaboration with Renault between 1967 and 1969. These works had never been presented in a gallery; they were shown only in 1970 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. For the third exhibition of this artist, the gallery held an exhibition in June – July 2000, Fragmentations, where in one installation created for the gallery space, Arman revived the « cuts » dating back from the beginning of the 1960s. In January 2006, the gallery decided to dedicate a tribute to the recently passed away artist and presented the exhibition No Comment.
In January 2010, the first major retrospective in a gallery is organised for the artist François Dufrêne, Sur les Dessous. It is accompanied by a publication prefaced by Aude Bodet.
Since 1999, the gallery represents one of the members of Nouveau Réalisme: Jacques Villeglé. A programme of twelve exhibitions each accompanied by a catalogue edited by the gallery has been initiated, based on the twelve themes of the Catalogue Raisonné of the artist. Today, seven categories have been explored: Mots, Images, Sans Lettre Sans Figure, Politiques, La Lettre Lacérée, the Petits Formats and the Peinture dans la Non Peinture. In June 2014, we present the Political Graffiti series, an exhibition also accompanied by a catalogue prefaced by Alfred Pacquement and Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr. Next to this series, we also present Brassaï’s Graffiti, whose wandering and collecting in the streets were very similar to Jacques Villeglé’s attitude. We also re-activate this year the Pénélope project, first presented on our booth at Art Basel 2012, the archives of an experimental film project in collaboration with Raymond Hains and Jacques Villeglé.
Since 2011, we represent the estates of Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. Similar to the work we have been doing with Jacques Villeglé for fifteen years now, our wish is to re-discover the great diversity of the work of these two artists through a cycle of exhibitions exploring the different phases of their oeuvre, in a thematic and chronological manner. For each exhibition, a catalogue prefaced by a critic or curator wishing to partake in the promotion of Nouveau Réalisme artists will be published.
In 2012, the first monograph dedicated to Jean Tinguely, published for our exhibition, put forth the “méta-reliefs” and “méta-matics” (from 1955 to 1961), some of which had not been shown for nearly fifty years. This pivotal period in the artist’s work marks his arrival in Paris and his participation in the exhibitions Bewogen Beweging at the Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam and in Rörelse i konsten at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Bernard Blistène gave us on this occasion a beautiful text entitled “Jean Tinguely en reliefs”.
For Niki de Saint Phalle in 2013, the exhibition En joue ! is dedicated to the years during which the artist went from assemblages to shooting-paintings (in-between 1958 to 1964), retracing this short but decisive period of her work when she joined the Nouveaux Réalistes groupe. It is also during this period that she had a solo exhibition, Feu à volonté, at galerie J, attended by Leo Castelli, Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg, which sparked off her international career. The exhibition catalogue is prefaced by Catherine Francblin, author of a biography of the artist published the same year by Hazan, by Michelle Grabner, co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and by Dr Nobis, curator at the Sprengel Museum. Exceptionally, the gallery obtained that the exhibition travel to Hannover from January to April 2014 to be exhibited at the Stiftung Ahlers Pro Arte, a private foundation.