Mot Nu Mental, 1964

Basel 2019
Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois
Other Materials
Bottom of posters on painted canvas; 11 canvases, 146 x 114 cm each
146.0 x 114.0 (cm)
57.5 x 44.9 (inch)
Among the Nouveaux Réalistes, François Dufrêne holds a special position; he joined the Lettrists at the age of 16, and, soon thereafter performed his sound art ‘phonetic poems’ which he called ‘improvised screams’ or ‘crirythmes,’ that involved a dynamic of tongue-clicking, coughing, sobbing or laughing. In 1952, his radical film Tambours du jugement premier (Drums of the first judgment) was shown at the Cannes Film Festival: it was the very first ‘film without film,’ he said, a movie without images. Through his friends Jacques Villeglé and Raymond Hains, he began to work on not just the advertising placards that they tore down, but on the morbid, weathered backsides. These reverse posters presented themselves as a major innovation; they explored indeed the hidden side of Parisian walls and can been seen as a sort of negative advertising or as political slogans difficult to decipher. Mot Nu Mental is a combination of random reverse posters in a large formal composition. As always, Dufrêne played humorously with the mental and intellectual nature of the work – and its spectacular realization is a priori contradictory. Mot Nu Mental was first shown in 1964 at the Gallery J, during a legendary exhibition devoted to the artist. Dufrêne always considered it as his masterpiece.