Martial Raysse between parody and pastiche

More precisely, it is with the Nouveaux Réalistes that Martial Raysse finds a place in the sun, even at the beach. Pin-ups, parasols, bath towels, inflatable toys…, all this panoply of objects-gadgets is brought together in the spectacular flagship installation Raysse Beach (1962/2007), his iconic work, which highlights the biting irony of the artist. But time has passed and the recent works exhibited at the Paul-Valéry Museum have lost much of their corrosive power.

Admittedly, parody is not absent from his paintings, which are inspired by key images of Western culture (Cranach, Ingres, Tintoretto). When Raysse attacks groups, he obtains disturbing, even disturbing compositions, grotesque bacchanalia, bitter satires, grimacing allegories (The Grand Jury2021; now2017; April Fool, 2007). Elsewhere, however, there are many works that appeal to kitsch, this controlled designation of silliness (Would you say Poetry?2014 ; So what, 2012; Or Acteonne2019, a sculpture in bronze and steel, taken from a classical posture).

This game with platitudes and pompism, hoisted to the level of a genre, is not without danger. With these works, the distinction between first and second degree, as between pastiche and original, is far from obvious for the spectator. But perhaps sometimes also for their author.

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