February 4, 2015 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes
February 4, 2015

Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes

Mimmo Rotella, La tigre, 1962. Décollage on canvas, 108 x 84 cm. Private collection Rome. © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2015.

Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes
5 February–25 May 2015

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
60311 Frankfurt

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Whether categorized as early Pop artists, trailblazers of Street Art, or protagonists of a “natural poetry” of reality: in the 1950s, the “Affichistes” came forward with a completely new concept of the panel painting. On their rambles through the streets of postwar Paris and Rome, they collected fragments of ubiquitous, overlayered, often weathered and tattered posters and elevated the world of everyday urban life itself to the status of a painting. Their access to reality, as subversive as it was poetic, made them pioneers of a “New Realism.” The comprehensive overview at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt from 5 February on highlights the Affichistes’ radical art for the first time in Germany after 20 years. Comprising 150 exhibits, the show encompasses the entire range of the art of poster tearing, from small fragments to overwhelming formats, from abstract color formations to icons of Pop culture—supplemented by photographic, filmic, and poetic experiments by the artists represented in the exhibition: Raymond Hains, Jacques Villeglé, François Dufrêne as well as Mimmo Rotella and Wolf Vostell.

“Today, everybody is familiar with Street Art and its outstanding protagonists all over the world from Brazil to the United States and to Great Britain. But only a few people know that the Affichistes were the first real trailblazers of Street Art. With this exhibition, the Schirn takes a look at the streets of Paris and Rome in the 1950s and 1960s and explores the Affichistes’ both radical and poetical involvement in the social and political reality of their time,” emphasizes Max Hollein, Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. 

Conceived by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland, the exhibition spans the period from 1946 to 1968 and pays particular attention to the emergence of the movement and the Affichistes’ early phases of production. With their 2.56-meter-wide manifesto-like frieze Ach Alma Manetro, the French artists Raymond Hains and Jacques Villeglé not only laid the cornerstone of the artistic practice of poster tearing (called affiche lacérée or décollage in French) in 1949, but also formulated a new concept of the artwork based on the understanding that “art was made by all. Not by one.” From its very beginnings, poster tearing was a practice distanced from the prevailing lyrical-abstract painting as well as from the prewar avant-garde’s collages and ready-mades. Yet, it was closely related to other artistic forms of expression and media such as language and poetry, photography and film. The exhibition at the Schirn highlights the special role of the French Affichistes François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, and Jacques Villeglé as well as of the Italian Mimmo Rotella within the avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s. The German artist Wolf Vostell’s relationship with the Affichistes is a singular one. The presentation at the Schirn assembles the five Affichistes’ most important works, among them loans from the artists’ bequests and numerous private collections and museums like the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the S.M.A.K. in Ghent, the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne or the Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the Federal Collection of Contemporary Art, in Bonn.

Esther Schlicht, curator of the exhibition adds: “The Affichistes’ art is subversive and direct. In its development from the abstract tendencies of the postwar era to the Pop Art of the 1960s, the art of the Affichistes presents itself as a counter-history of painting since 1945. It is exactly the works’ media or intermedia character that makes them appear astoundingly fresh and original today, sixty years after their creation.”

The exhibition centers on five central themes of the Affichistes’ art: abstraction, material/process, Lettrism, politics, and Pop and presents the individual artists in separate cabinets, drawing on comprehensive documentary material such as historical photographs and films.

Director: Max Hollein
Curators: Esther Schlicht (Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt) and Roland Wetzel (Museum Tinguely, Basel)

Press contact: Axel Braun (Head of Press/Public Relations)
T (+49 69) 29 98 82 153 / F (+49 69) 29 98 82 240 / presse [​at​] schirn.de

Press material:www.schirn.de (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS)


Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
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