The French artist Jacques Villeglé, known for his work from posters collected in the street, died at the age of 96, announced Tuesday, June 7 in a press release, the Center Pompidou, which keeps twelve of its works and devoted a major exhibition to him in 2008-2009.
The President of the Center Pompidou Laurent Le Bon hailed “the memory of a great artist, flâneur and collector of posters whose singular work marked the second half of the 20th century”. It was “a pioneer of urban art”who used the lacerated poster almost exclusively as material for his art, the press release points out.
Jacques Villeglé was born on March 27, 1926 in Quimper. He studied painting and drawing at the School of Fine Arts in Rennes where he met Raymond Hains, with whom he remained close. Then he studied architecture in Nantes. As early as 1949, he began tearing down torn posters with Raymond Hains. All sorts of posters, political posters, posters for shows or concerts, advertisements, successive layers of which cover the walls.
“There was a great richness in these images, I could take off a ‘calm’ poster in the morning, and more expressionist in the evening, they reflected my mood. There are about ten themes in the works that I then showed. There is no repetition in the lacerated, but always a surprise. It is as if we reproached Matisse for always making oil paintings”he told the JDD in 2016.
Jacques Villeglé does not generally intervene on the posters that he takes from the streets to stick them on canvas. Rather, he locates in the chaos found on the walls the beauties hidden in the layers torn by passers-by, who have sometimes also written on the paper or stained it. He felt that “the sampling is the parallel of the photographer’s framing”reports the Center Pompidou.
He is interested in typography and has a particular interest in it in his take-offs. From 1969, he created a “socio-political alphabet” in constant evolution.
His art is a reflection of the realities of his time. “The poster, an emanation of the propaganda of political and financial powers, it is through the colors that overflow from the tears that it becomes the flower of contemporary life, an affirmation of optimism and cheerfulness”, he said. He was one of the founding members of New Realism in 1960, with Raymond Hains, Tinguely, Arman…
“Tireless, Jacques Villeglé crossed the decades with an insatiable curiosity for the events of his time. His lacerated posters and his socio-political alphabet testify to this complex history, with its vagaries and its carefree moments. He had the elegance of those who don’t need to say too much to hit the mark”said Sophie Duplaix, curator, head of the contemporary collections department at the National Museum of Modern Art and who had been curator of the exhibition Jacques Villegle. The urban comedy in 2008-2009.
Recently, the artist had exhibited at Epinal in 2018 and at the Museum of Modern Art in Saint-Etienne in 2016. He was expected this summer in Saint-Malo where an exhibition will be dedicated to him at the Chapelle Saint-Sauveur (from 9 July to September 18, 2022).