The devil in the body. When Op Art electrifies the cinema
#NICE There was this moment when, as early as the mid-1950s, art took hold of the street, everyday life and the signs of a society engulfed in the illusions of post-war technological progress. If, through accumulation and destruction, the artists of New Realism were to question the foundations of this society, the artists of art and kineticism would glorify it by spreading themselves in luxury, fashion, cinema and the glamour of glossy paper. And to what Restany described as “an adventure of the object” about the New Realism, Optical art will respond with the subjective effects produced in the viewer. Today, MAMAC puts this movement into perspective to bring out its contradictory aspect, the relationship between technique and the body and that of the intellect and sensations
« The devil in the body “, the title of the exhibition, does not refer so much to this art marked by a limited abstraction, first of all to black and white, to geometric figures on flat surfaces, as to the effects of imbalance that it will produce on the public. It will find its full strength in psychological effects and, at the same time, in the impact of movement, light effects and labyrinthine structures of Kinetic Art
This is how cinema will take hold of it to translate erotic transes, vertigo and artifice disorders. Pushed to the limits of humour and derision in Lautner in “The Eye of the Monocle” or those of a naive kitten at Demy in “Les demoiselles de Rochefort” the influences of this artistic movement are particularly highlighted here. Fashion will not be outdone with the metallic dresses of Paco Rabane as well as the dancers of the Crazy Horse curl up in the luminous sinuosities of the projectors
From the outset, this art claims to be an illusionist and retinal art. At Vasarely the plan of the painting is animated according to the circles and checkers seized in convulsions for anamorphic effects. The viewer’s point of view is constantly sought. He must immerse himself in the work, his body moves around the transparent volumes of Soto or fromYvaral in a rain of neon wires or metal rods. It comes up against the colourful labyrinths of Cruz-Diez. The space expands and contracts in turn and invites to a physical experience
Of all this, should we only remember the chic and the fake or should we understand the stakes of such a movement? Among its initiators, the GRAV (Groupe de recherche d’Art Visuel) declared in his manifesto in 1963: “We want to interest the spectator, take him out of inhibitions, relax him… “To this liberating and playful will, Morellet adds a more intellectual dimension by stating that he is less interested in the result than in the system itself. The rules to which he submits are ironic and may remind us of Pérec’s writing. For the others, irony, there were few. The technological fascination now can sink into the nostalgia of vintage. Or, to put it another way, the situationists, who at the same time were acting in the shadows, could have said that between the spectacular and its denunciation there will only be the spectacle of denunciation.
From May 17 to September 29
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