MARTIAL RAYSSE (B. 1936)
MARTIAL RAYSSE (B. 1936)
MARTIAL RAYSSE (B. 1936)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more LE JEUNE, A COLLECTING LEGACY
MARTIAL RAYSSE (B. 1936)

Bien sûr le petit bateau (Of course the little boat)

Details
MARTIAL RAYSSE (B. 1936)
Bien sûr le petit bateau (Of course the little boat)
signed three times, titled and dated twice 'bien sûr le petit bateau MARTIAL RAYSSE 63' (on the stretcher)
acrylic, wood and plastic flowers on xerography laid down on two conjoined canvases
68 3/4 x 43 7/8 x 4 3/8in. (174.5 x 111.5 x 11cm.)
Executed in 1963
Provenance
Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris.
Private Collection, Antwerp.
Private Collection, Belgium.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited
The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Nieuwe Realisten, 1964.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Pop Art Nouveau Realisme Etc…, 1965, no. 116.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Martial Raysse, 1967, no. 15 (illustrated, unpaged).
Brussels, ING Art Center, Pop art in Belgium, 2015.
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 archive number IMR-0225.

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Lot Essay

Created in Los Angeles in 1963, Bien sûr le petit bateau (Of course the little boat) is a subversive celebration of sun, colour and beauty by Martial Raysse. One of an important series of baigneuses, or bathers, that Raysse made from 1962-64, the picture was made using his trademark technique of the time: an image of a woman posing on a beach, in this case a friend of the artist, was photocopied and blown up to monumental scale before being laid down on canvas and overpainted in otherworldly Day-Glo colours. The woman’s legs are bright orange and pink, her face and left arm green, and her right arm a blue that matches the sky. The lower portion of the image extends onto a second, affixed panel, which protrudes into space and is adorned with sprays of plastic flowers and leaves. On the sea in the distant horizon, meanwhile, is a tiny red boat—the petit bateau of the title—that would otherwise surely have escaped our attention amid the foreground’s neon-hued splendours. With Raysse’s characteristic sense of humour, this playful detail highlights the picture’s self-conscious artifice and direction of the viewer’s gaze. Related baigneuse works from 1963 are held in major museum collections, including Soudain l'été dernier (Centre Pompidou, Paris), and Souviens-toi de Tahiti (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek).

Transforming the picture-plane into a sculptural presence, the assemblage of the present work is typical of the Nouveaux Réalistes with whom Raysse was associated, and whose multimedia creations often blurred the boundaries between life and art. Founded in Paris by the critic Pierre Restany in 1960, the group—which also included such artists as Yves Klein, Arman, Jean Tinguely, Daniel Spoerri and the affichistes Raymond Hains and Jacques de la Villeglé—declared a quest to find what they called ‘new ways of perceiving the real.’ Rather than imitating reality through traditional painting, they aimed to capture and incorporate it directly into their art, often employing found advertisements, plastic packaging and other urban bric-a-brac. Their interest in the objects and surfaces of everyday life had much in common with the radical ‘readymades’ of Marcel Duchamp, as well as with the Pop art that was emerging across the Atlantic. Bien sûr le petit bateau was included in the important group exhibitions Nieuwe Realisten at the Kunstmuseum den Haag, The Hague, in 1964 and Pop Art Nouveau Réalisme Etc… at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels, in 1965; in 1967 it was shown in a solo retrospective of Raysse’s work at the same venue.

Typically irreverent in tone, the Nouveaux Réalistes’ work—and Raysse’s practice in particular—can also be understood as a riposte to the misérabliste tenor of much postwar Parisian art, which was dominated by the bleak existentialism of painters such as Bernard Buffet and the sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Born in 1936 to ceramicist parents in the Côte d’Azur commune of Vallauris, Raysse always remained a Mediterranean painter at heart. With its fluorescent colours, leisurely coastal themes and embrace of consumerist abundance—he famously declared the bountiful new Prisunic supermarkets to be ‘the museums of modern art’—his work was flooded with Riviera sunlight, and spiked with a keen ironic wit.

Raysse visited New York in 1962, and became acquainted with artists including Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann. During this time, he turned away from vitrines and accumulated plastic objects—modes of working he had initially shared with his friend Arman—towards a more representational aesthetic. His baigneuse paintings made their first appearance that year as part of the iconic installation Raysse Beach, which he debuted at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam alongside environments by Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Spoerri, Tinguely and others. There, the swimsuit-clad beauties surrounded a simulated beach setting complete with sand, buoys, inflatables, towels, a jukebox, a neon sign and even heat-lamps that turned up the temperature. As Alison M. Gingeras has noted, this work captures the satirical edge that runs throughout Raysse’s oeuvre. ‘Raysse Beach does not present a sexualised fantasy landscape by the sea; it proposes an overly hygienic world that is dominated by advertising messages, a proliferation of plastic products (plastic gloves, brushes, sponges, etc.), and an ersatz allure of health emanating from a readymade sun. If Raysse’s bathers are metonymical stand-ins for France, he is simultaneously condemning and preserving their inherent modern condition’ (A. M. Gingeras, ‘Un Homme de Gauche’, in Martial Raysse, exh. cat. Palazzo Grassi, Venice 2015, p. 448).

The following year Raysse relocated to Los Angeles, a city whose heat, light and hedonism, as well as the cultural mythmaking of its entertainment industry, echoed the atmosphere of his native Côte d’Azur. He began a series of works in which he pastiched paintings by old masters—most famously Ingres, in his 1964 canvas Made in Japan – La Grande Odalisque (Centre Pompidou)—in lurid, electric hues, toying with their pictorial presence by adding cheap jewellery, peacock feathers or plastic flies to their surfaces. Bien sûr le petit bateau enacts a similar sabotage of the art of the past. The female bather, time-honoured subject of French painting from Courbet to Cézanne, is restaged as a gaudy, alienated object of desire; the flowers, conventionally a symbol of life’s transience in the vanitas still-life, have become tangibly, glaringly synthetic. While he luxuriates in the pleasures and possibilities of the consumerist landscape, Raysse also foregrounds the construction of its illusions, as well as the stereotyping of the female image in advertising and art history alike. Turning colour and allure up to a garish fever pitch, he reveals a fundamental ambivalence about the promises of the postwar world. ‘You have to push falsehood to an extreme’, he said in 1965. ‘Bad taste is the dream of a beauty that is too greatly desired’ (M. Raysse, quoted in J-J. Lévêque, ‘Martial Raysse: la beauté c’est le mauvais goût’, Arts, Paris, 16-22 June 1965).

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