Raymond Hains



"When it happened to me, some summer evenings on the terrace of the Danton, one of the rare cafés to close at three in the morning, to be the attentive and passive ear that Raymond Hains needed, I regretted not being able to memorize his words.

No logic, the words followed each other in an apparently assembled disorder, fortuitous associations of meanings and sounds where one word leads to another, unexpected, hidden relationships, travel in time and space.

From this abstract melody, I ended up perceiving the layers, the surprises, the coincidences, the remains of erased memory or living memory that we find accumulated in his work. 1945, it is the discovery of the surrealist compositions of Emmanuel Sougez, and it is his beginnings of photographer to the photographic service of France-Illustration.

Very quickly he places himself on the other side of the mirror, wanting to show another reality, he created what he called hypnagogic photographs.

It is a question of making visible the state of waking dream, described by Freud, this passage between the conscious and the unconscious which precedes the sleep. He exhibited his photographs at the Colette Allendy Gallery on June 30, 1948.

He goes further and seeks through his photographs "to produce instead of reproducing", he wants to generate disorientation, fragmenting the image with the help of small mirrors, deforming it through fluted glasses.

It is a question of tearing the spectactor away from the conventions of mimicry to propel him into the informal universe of a graphic, autonomous photography, perceived as an object. 

From paper he moves on to the film medium, "Loi du 29 juillet 1881 or Défense d'afficher" and above all "Pénélope", an abstract film named by Villeglé.

1945 was above all the essentiel meeting with Villeglé, both of whom were students in Brittany. Together they begin the adventure of tearing up posters, of "Lacéré anonyme" as Villeglé calls them. They rip down the advertising posters stuck up in the streets, piece by piece. At the beginning, these were mostly fragments, raw, poetic, random, delivering a lyrical image, whose only mystery lay buried between the successive layers of glued posters.

Their first exhibition was in 1949 at the Colette Allendy Gallery.

The years 1949-1961 are those of "La France déchirée", the title of an exhibition at the Galerie J. in 1961, with Jacques Villeglé. Twenty posters reflect France from 1950 to 1961, eleven years of "noise and fury", the Algerian War, General de Gaulle, politics and drama.

Often austere, the posters superimpose broken words, chanted words, letters of printing assembled in an abstract work almost geometric. This was also the time when Hains met one of the founders of Lettrism, Isidore Isou.

In 1957, "Palissade aux emplacements réservés" was exhibited at the first Paris Biennial. The posters are collected on their wooden support, fences, multiplying the effects of chance, coincidences, which he sometimes resumes, mastering, intoxicated by a dialectic in the vein of Raymond Roussel or the Marquis de Bièvre, creating what he calls "word-catchers". Words follow on another, from posters to palisades, boucing off "lapalissades", the entremets of "La Palissade", his meeting with Geneviève de Chabannes la Palice, descendent of the Lord of La Palice, and also the candies called "Vérités de la Palisse".

Words, papers supporting words and images, of which there often remains only a colored end, a snippet of a letter, cohabit, assembled, cemented by the genius of an underlying discourse, Brownian movement frozen on a wooden board, a sheet of metal or emerging from superimposed glued papers.

On October 27th, 1960, Hains joins the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) group with Villeglé.

What interests me in the Nouveau Réalisme are the personified abstractions... I am myself a personified abstraction. He did not stop there, constantly expanding his field of exploration and exhibited "Neo Dada wrapped" in 1963 at the Salon Comparaisons.

In 1964 in Milan, he enlarged disproportionately boxes and matchbooks. Iris Clert then exhibited at SAFFA & SEITA, and invited the Paris firemen.

In Iris-time number 21, October 1965, subtitled "the point of view of Iris", to the question Who is Raymond Hains? Iris Clert answers: he is the king of the metaphysical pun (...). His thought since 1946 does not stop evolving and proliferating in gigantic analogical meanders. His images and his words mix in the only associative order, culturel references, common objects and proper names, bringing together places and characters, artists, merchants, critics, curators, creating a poetic and conceptual Pop Art. 

Hains brings up the word Pompidou by bridging the gap between the brasserie La Palette, rue Jacques Callot in Paris, run by Mr. Pidoux, and the Lara Vincy gallery, located across the street, rue de Seine, for his exhibition "Art in Vinci" in 1976.

1983, Yves Klein the immeasurable inspires him "Le Monochrome dans le métro" which he exhibits at the Eric Fabre gallery. 1989 at the FIAC, on the stand of his same Paris gallery, Hains shows "Le Piédestal de Louis XIV", by Bernini, covered with tagged words.

At the 1991 Lyon Biennial, Hains showed this same Pedestal, on the Place Bellecour, next to Lemot's Louis XIV, two monitors retransmitting what was happening inside the Tony Garnier hall, so that passers-by in the square could confuse Bernini's and Lemot's sculptures.

In 1999, he is invited to the Printemps de Cahors, and realizes his Macintoshages, a heterogeneous formation around what's-his-name, machine, Macintosh, Mac luhan, "Galaxie Gutemberg", mother Mac Miche and other associatons, functioning according to the web around Yves Klein, Marguerite d'Autruche, the Raynaud's Pot and Garry Davis.

2001, exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou. We finally realize the importance of the artist's work, and its diveristy within the same obsessive recurring and reborn system. It shows a work of condensation, displacement of words and images: a metonymy, a metaphor, the linguistic work of tropes, a work of the unconscious in the dream in the Freudian sense, the real hypnagogic work."

Marie-Hélène Grinfeder
Le jeu des allitérations mises en images


Raymond Hains is a French visual artist, born in Saint-Brieuc on November 9, 1926 and died in Paris on October 28, 2005.

A leading figure of the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism), Raymond Hains is distinguished by a protean work where we find photographs, torn posters, language exercises, memory boxes, matchbooks...

The works of Raymond Hains are exhibited in major museums around the world.

Exhibitions (selection)


Galeristes, Contemporary Art Fair, Galerie W, Carreau du Temple, Paris


8e Avenue [Official Exhibition] / Champs Elysées, Paris, FR

- Nouveau Réalisme… L’Esprit provocateur di Mimmo Rotella / MACA, Acri, IT

- Merci Raymond par Bertrand Lavier / Monnaie de Paris, Paris, FR

- Jacques Villeglé Pénélope à Quimper ou le retour d’Ulysse / Galerie G.-P. et N. Vallois, Paris, FR


- Raymond Hains, Photographe / Arles 2015 Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, FR

- Raymond Hains L’Entretien infini / MAMCO, Genève, CH

- Raymond le disert/Raymond la science/Raymond l’abstrait / Galerie Max Hetzler, Paris/ Berlin, FR/DE


- La poésie de la métropole. Les Affichistes / Musée Tinguely/Schirn Kunsthalle, Bâle/Francfort, CH

- Langue des oiseaux et coq à l’âne / FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, FR


Art Paris Art Fair [Stand of the Galerie W] / Grand Palais, Paris, FR

- Gérard Deschamps - Raymond Hains / Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch, Issoudun, FR


- Le Festival du Mot / La Cité du Mot, La Charité sur Loire, FR


- Not For Sale / Passage de Retz, Paris, FR

Chic Art Fair, Contemporary Art Fair [Stand of the Galerie W], Cité de la Mode et du Design, Paris


Chic Art Fair - Hainstallation [Stand of the Galerie W] / Cité de la Mode et du Design, Paris, FR

- Visions contemporaines de Marguerite d’Autriche / Monastère royal de Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse, FR

- Défense d’afficher Dector & Dupuy | Raymond Hains | Jacques Villeglé / Médiathèque municipale de Vouillé, Vouillé, FR

- La part des ombres / Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin, Cahors, FR

- Ecce Homo Ludens / MRAC, Sérignan, FR

- Ritournelle / FRAC Bretagne, Galerie Rapinel, Bazouges-la-Pérouse, FR

- Raymond Hains / Nosbaum Reding Gallery, Luxembourg, LU


- Le Nouveau Réalisme I Cinquant’anni Les Cinquante ans 1960_2010 / Agnellini Arte Moderna, Brescia, IT

- Visages / Galerie de France, Paris, FR

- Revu et corrigé / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest, Brest, FR

- Sculpteurs de trottoir. Autour de Raymond Hains 2 / Le Quartier Centre d’Art Contemporain, Quimper, FR

- The Space of Words / MUDAM, Luxembourg, LU

- Vérités de la Palissade / Galerie W, Paris, FR

- Hainsoumis, Hainsolent, Hainsinuation / Galerie Albert Benamou/Galerie de l’Exil, Paris, FR


- Comme le verre à travers le soleil, autour de Raymond Hains / FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Clisson, FR

- Il Nouveau Réalisme, dal 1970 ad oggi. Omaggio a Pierre Restany / PAC, Milan, IT


- Les Nouveaux Réalistes / Grand Palais, Paris, FR

- Les Nouveaux Réalistes / Sprengel Museum, Hanovre, DE


- Merci Raymond ! / A.A.R.H., Paris, FR

- La Force de l’Art : « Être le ministre de sa propre culture » / Grand Palais, Paris, FR

- Rues / Galerie Marion Meyer, Paris, FR

- APRèS dAdA ? / Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, FR

- Distorsions (1) / IAC, Villeurbanne, FR


- En souvenir de André du Colombier / Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, FR

- L’œil moteur 1950-1975 / Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg, FR

- L’action restreinte / Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, FR

- Les Affichistes entre Milan et Bretagne / Galleria Gruppo Credito Valtellinese, Milan, IT

- Nouveau Réalisme / Museum Moderner Kunst Striftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, AT


- Le désir de Retz ou le disert de Retz / Passage de Retz, Paris, FR

- De l’art à Vinci aux Vedettes du Pont Neuf / Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, FR

- De Chateaubriand à Rosanbo / Galerie du Dourven, Trédrez-Locquémeau, FR

- Art & Utopia : Limited Action / MACBA, Barcelone, ES


- La boîte à fiches / Musée Art et Histoire, Saint-Brieuc, FR

- En quête de Raymond Hains / Galerie du Dourven, Trédrez-Locquémeau, FR

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