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Throughout his life, French artist Raymond Hains (1926–2005) proved a constant innovator, who in his art always found new means of expression and new ways of finding and presenting images. Immediately after the Second World War he experimented with photograms and optical distortion through camera lenses, in what he termed hypnagogic photography. In the 1950s, he took torn posters from the billboards of the city and offered them as paintings, suggesting an affichiste alternative closer to life than spiritually suffused abstract expressionism. In 1960 he was among the original founders of Nouveau Realisme and carried the grim reality of construction hoardings into the gallery space. He then discovered the possibilities inherent in word play and framed the resulting juxtapositions and narratives in photographs, or collected them in suitcases full of curious findings. He discovered street sculptures at the margins of the cityscape and photographed them, too. Around the new millennium, he began a series of macintoshages, collages of pop-up windows grabbed from a computer screen, while he also developed neon sculptures after the Borromean knots of psychiatrist Jacques Lacan.
Befitting the inventiveness and complexity of this work, Galerie Max Hetzler staged a thematically organized retrospective in all its three venues in Berlin and Paris. This book, the first comprehensive monograph created in collaboration with the artist’s estate, further deepens the story. It follows the works’ countless references which in their sum afford us the rare opportunity to experience this fascinating oeuvre in all its many-layered riches. Curator Jean-Marie Gallais delivers an in-depth essay on the artist’s work and life, while fellow artist Tacita Dean contributes a personal hommage. Hans Ulrich Obrist, in both his own reflection on the work as well as a long conversation with the artist, renders Raymond Hains’ inexhaustible chains of association that now can be gathered from his own words.
Published by Holzwarth Publications, Berlin
Edited by Jean-Marie Gallais
Texts by Jean-Marie Gallais, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Tacita Dean,
Interview of the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist
English / French
Hardcover, 24 x 30 cm
230 pages, 176 Colour Illustrations and 42 black-and-white