Born at Saint-Brieuc in 1926 and dead in 2005, Raymond Hains was one of the founding members of New Realism. He worked between Paris and Nice and became known notably for his palisade works and his lacerated posters.

He studied at the Beaux-art school of Saint-Brieuc then of Rennes where he met Jacques Villeglé before starting photography. With a Kodak camera, he photographed the aftermath of the war. Once in Paris, he met Emmanuel Sougez, the director of photography at France-Illustration who hired him. In 1946 he made abstract photographs by combining images and play on words, then he experimented with a fluted lens that distorts the images into different shapes. These hypnagogic photos were exhibited in 1948 at the Galerie Colette Allendy. He published an article in 1952 called « Graphics in photography. When photography becomes object, » explaining the importance of creating « new realities » through the manipulation and abstraction of the image.

Hains then made short black and white movies and shot a documentary called « Saint-Germain-des-Prés-Colombiens, » and multiple films with Jacques Villeglé from 1950 to 1954 such as « Pénélope », « Défense d’afficher » or « Loi du 29 Juillet 1881 » which have this same distortion and colorful graphics inspired by the gouaches of Matisse. This technique of using fluted lenses was also used to create the « ultra letter, » which consisted in dispersing letters until the language didn’t become coherent anymore. In 1953 he published « l’Hepérile éclaté » with Jacques Villeglé.

Together they also made a series of torn concert posters. The assemblage of posters and tears produced a typographic language similar to that with the distortion of letters. These posters were exhibited in 1957 at the Colette Allendy gallery. He exhibited photos of palisades at the first Paris Biennale in 1959 and exhibited at the Salon Comparaison of 1960. A retrospective of these works took place in 1976 curated by Daniel Abadie at the C.N.A.C. and he also presented a torn poster of the Joconde at the Lara Vincy Gallery. Hains created his first « Macintoshes » in 1997. In 2001, the Pompidou Center organized a retrospective called « La tentative. » His works are in numerous public collections such as the Fondation Cartier in Paris, the Modern Art Museum of Paris, the Pompidou Center (Paris) amongst others.

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Raymond Hains
Photo Credit : © DR