Martial Raysse (B. 1936)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Martial Raysse (B. 1936)

La Blanche

Details
Martial Raysse (B. 1936)
La Blanche
signed thrice, titled and dated thrice ‘MARTIAL RAYSSE 63' 'France Blanche' (crossed) 'La Blanche' (on the stretcher); signed ‘MARTIAL R’ (on the reverse)
spray paint, acrylic, velvet, plastic pinned rose on xerography laid down on canvas
13 3/8 x 9 3/8 x 2 ¾in. (34 x 23.7 x 6cm.)
Executed in 1963
Provenance
Galerie Iolas, Paris.
Galerie Natalie Seroussi, Paris.
Private Collection, Paris (1980s).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Natalie Seroussi, Martial Raysse 1960-1980, 2000.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Post lot text
This work is registered in the inventory of Martial Raysse's work under number IMR-0110. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

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Lot Essay

A jewel-like vision of neon brilliance, La Blanche (1963) is a playful and incisive multimedia work by Martial Raysse. The face of Raysse’s wife, France, is framed in gold, on the intimate scale of a devotional icon. Her hair is silvery white, and her xeroxed face spray-painted a delicate green. The background is a bright vermillion, while before her, echoing the manner of a medieval portrait at a windowsill, a strip of lilac velvet creates a ledge on which rests a plastic rose. These sculptural elements add a physically luxurious edge to an already seductive image, typifying Raysse’s inventive approach to the picture plane: in its colour scheme, the work is closely echoed in his masterpiece Made in Japan – La Grande Odalisque (1964, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), a reimagined Ingres which is similarly adorned with tassels and plastic jewels. Created shortly after the artist’s move to Los Angeles, which had seen the debut of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans at Ferus Gallery just one year earlier, La Blanche dates from a foundational moment in the history of American Pop Art. Raysse, who had co-founded the Nouveau Réalisme movement with Yves Klein in Paris in 1960, brought the burgeoning languages of consumerism-based art from both sides of the Atlantic into vivid conversation. La Blanche, while it takes chromatic lessons from the West Coast, has the air of distinctive chic that sets Raysse’s work apart. On the reverse, he has crossed out the original title France Blanche, suggesting that he wished to shift away from the work’s personal angle to present his wife’s face as a universal image of beauty. A related 1963 work, La France tricolore, inscribed to France on her birthday, plays with the ambiguity of her name – she was named for the country as she was born on Bastille Day. In these works is an apt foreshadowing, perhaps, of the moment in 1968 when Brigitte Bardot became the official face of Marianne, bringing together the desire and glamour of the Sixties with the ultimate symbol of liberty in France.

While he is often typified as a European Pop artist, Raysse’s work is more complex than this label allows: acclaimed recent retrospectives at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2014) and at Venice’s Palazzo Grassi (2015) have seen renewed appreciation of his practice. The Nouveaux Réalistes – a group that also included Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle – privileged an unmediated relationship to the ‘reality’ of their urban surroundings. Rather than imitating that reality through paint, they aimed to incorporate it directly into their art, capturing images already in the world around them. Their blurring of the line between art and life had much in common with the radical ‘readymades’ of Marcel Duchamp, as well as with the Pop Art that was emerging in the United States. Through his vibrant and witty imagery, Raysse in particular offered a sharp rebuttal to the prevailing tenor of art in mid-century Paris. ‘I wanted to exalt the modern world, optimism and the sun’, he declared. ‘Painting sadness can only be a snobbish pursuit of unhealthy obliviousness! Death is undoubtedly horrific enough, troubling enough ... One could say that my paintings are perhaps an exorcism. We must drive out the idea of death, reassure ourselves. Through work and through beauty’ (M. Raysse, quoted in ‘Martial Raysse, Première Partie: “esthétique”’, Zoom, Paris 1971, pp. 63, 67). Appropriating images from magazines and advertising, he assessed the joy and seduction inherent in the dazzling – even painterly – visuals of his everyday surroundings, exploring, like the other Nouveaux Réalistes, a new humanistic concept of art and the artist in consumer society. Unlike Warhol, whose Marilyn Monroe was an essentially morbid image, Raysse’s gaze fell less on death than on life. ‘What interests me is the colourful profusion of mass-produced objects,’ he said, ‘the quantitative influx of displays, the wave of new products in department stores. Art today is a rocket in space. The Prisunics [a French supermarket] are the museums of modern art’ (M. Raysse quoted in ‘L’école de Nice à la Biennale de Paris, Communications 4, Nice, October-November 1961, p. 22). Far from cynical or nihilistic, Raysse’s preoccupations with surface, consumerism and mass-production were creative and celebratory.

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