what is real in nouveau réalisme


This article deals with understanding the Nouveau Réalisme movement and its major premise, the direct perception of the real, which has been doubly obscured by both the subjective interpretations of Pierre Restany and the long established bounds of Nouveau Réalisme with pop art. It investigates the complicated relationship between the Nouveaux Réalistes, the reality of the post-war France, and its appropriation and shattering, which proved to happen at the same time and triggered significant changes in the art practices.

§ Introduction

In the 1950–60s, for the first time since the historical avant-garde, the very notion of an artwork and its form was reconsidered. The Nouveaux Réalistes—whose name refers to an artistic style and method perhaps least fitting for a group of artists associated with avant-garde culture—made a great contribution to this reconsideration. In their practice, the Nouveaux Réalistes(1) were versatile and often inconsistent, but at the same time, they always stayed one step ahead in conceiving and realising artistic forms that would become symbolic for the artists of the next generation. It is for this reason, above all, that their art has not received due attention from art historians. Furthermore, the Nouveaux Réalistes were rarely studied as a movement per se; rather, the artists belonged to it were usually ‘distributed’ among other major movements of the time: the continental variant of pop art, land art, or even conceptual art. This was, in part, due to the fact that ‘Nouveau Réalisme’ was not a name chosen mutually by these artists themselves, but rather by theorist Pierre Restany—a critic with a pure right-wing position, whose interpretations of the movement were often too subjective and obtrusive. Thus they could not from inside determine the inner kinship of the artists and tie them together into a coherent joint. Needless to say that the variety among artists exists, but does not abolish their interconnections which are far more important and will be exposed here.

The original impetus behind the Nouveaux Réalistes’ consolidation into a movement was to separate themselves from the predominant at that time: art informel. They opposed the latter’s subjectivity and emotional saturation with a return to the real, and proclaimed the possibility of new ways of directly perceiving reality. A new definition of realism put forward by the group turned to inspire transformations that would become significant for the subsequent development of art.

The perception of the real: two strategies

Taking literally the thesis articulated in Pierre Restany’s Nouveau Réalisme manifesto – which entailed ‘the direct perception of the real’—these artists turned to appropriating forgotten ready-made objects. The art of Arman can serve as a reliable example of such an approach. Striving to escape the tiresome medium of painting, he turned to ‘trash, rubbish, waste industrial products,’ transforming these undesirable objects into art.(2) Jean Tinguely took a similar approach, describing his labour as the resuscitation of the waste produced by the civilisation. Daniel Spoerri combined two dada techniques—objet trouvé and chance-based procedure to devise a new genre of snare-pictures (tableaux-pièges): he glued the remains of a meal arranged by chance to a table surface and turned it vertically to be hung like a picture. César exhibited mechanically pressed cars as works of art. The Affichistes worked with torn and tattered posters, either transferring them onto canvas like Jacques Villeglé or having them on a native stockade like Raymond Hains.

Yves Klein at some point converged in his methods of the ‘perception of the real’ with the above-mentioned artists. This is evident in his Cosmogonies, begun in 1960, when he stretched a canvas covered in blue pigment over the roof of his car and drove from Paris to Cagnes-sur-Mer, allowing wind, rain, and dust affect the surface. 

Although Klein died in 1962, it was he who most significantly influenced the further course of art. He was the first to become aware of the limitations inherent in the strategy of appropriation shared by the Nouveaux Réalistes. His strategy was distinctive in its methods of perceiving and comprehending reality—which entailed not appropriating the material and tangible evidence of reality but examining and adopting the very concept of reality and the problematic surrounding its exploration.

Klein questioned what reality was as early as in his first monochromes. Although they were abstract and may have seemed as subjective as art informel, Klein saw them not as a result of his personal and biased gestures, but as an objective reality which came into the world—that is, realism. His realism was not figurative (like landscape or still life), for that would have been superficial due to its representational nature; rather, it was a ‘true’ realism ‘created through a dynamic and wondrous contemplation of nature in all its aspects and moments,’ realism ‘in a profoundly classical spirit.’(3) Attempting to fully eliminate a personal element, he would later prefer to delegate performing functions to other parties, as in his Anthropometries, while he himself remained ‘detached and distant,’ simply observing the work of art as it created itself and ‘came into existence in the tangible world.’(4)

One could try to eliminate subjectivity from inside of the artwork. The fact that its meaning would still be determined from the outside became apparent for Klein at the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Colette Allendy (1956), where he presented various monochromes. The viewers’ perception of these was burdened with preconceived points of view, and, rather than allowing them to contemplate pure—real—colours, forced them to pay attention to their interrelationships and ‘reconstitute the elements of a decorative polychromy.’(5)

Klein anticipated the difficulties that would complicate the communication between the ‘objective’ artwork and a ‘subjective’ viewer’s perception. Thus, a small text by Pierre Restany on the invitation to the exhibition warned attendees that the artist would require an intense concentration from the spectators at the ‘moment of truth’—otherwise this communication might fail.(6) Since the exhibition nevertheless confirmed that there was a barrier between reality and a person, which prevented the latter from the claimed ‘direct perception’ and direct interaction, Klein soon modified the forms of the monochromes based on this new understanding of reality. 

At the Galerie Apollinaire in Milan, where the Proposte Monocrome, Epoca Blu exhibition opened in 1957, the monochromes were not hung directly onto the wall but mounted on stanchions (fig.1). Benjamin Buchloh called them ‘prosthesis for public display,’ as if they revealed a lack of self-sufficiency within an artwork and thus the inner conflict intrinsic to abstract painting (and even art in general): every artwork is simultaneously self-sufficient and contingent, ‘dependent on an array of devices and discursive conventions’ which mediate its perception.(7)

fig.1 Proposte Monocrome, Epoca Blu. 1957 © Yves Klein Archive

The same year, Klein opened a double exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert and Galerie Colette Allendy in Paris. The latter was home to the Surfaces and Blocks of Pictorial Sensibility exposition, which simply bared the empty walls of the former office of Dr. René Allendy. In fact, this subject matter—the ‘sensibility’ that offered each visitor a unique set of properties and feelings—suggested that art is equally the result of distortions through the lens of subjective expectations and reactions.
Significant in making this claim is the eponymous film in which Klein himself plays several roles. In the first episode, he acts as an artist pointing to an invisible artwork. In the second shot, he poses as an art amateur, showing an intent connoisseur’s observation as he scans a blank wall from top to bottom and left to right. The third shot shows a buyer (a collector or art dealer); Klein sits holding a price list and frowning. These three stereotypical patterns of behaviour suggest a standardisation of aesthetic perception(8) to which even the most conscientious viewer is subjected.

Having recognised and problematised in his works the mechanisation of a viewer’s perception, Klein nonetheless remained attached to the idea that if the right form for the artwork was found (or was discarded for the sake of immateriality), the viewer would have access to the ‘real’ content that the artwork strove to communicate.

However, the following year, Klein made a significant turn: having sufficiently explored the mechanisms of reality, he proceeded from ascertaining its vulnerability to attempting to construct it. Thus, in 1958, the Galerie Iris Clert displayed the exhibition The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, or The Void by Yves Klein. The gallery window was painted International Klein Blue and concealed the exposition. The entrance was arranged from a side street through an identically painted theatrical curtain. Everything was arranged to make the event appear important and grand. Visitors were offered blue cocktails. No more than ten at a time were admitted to the exhibition. Officers from the National Guard helped keep the piece. As for the content of the exhibition itself, it was nothing but freshly whitened walls—in short, a void. 

This time, Klein did not plead with viewers to put efforts into their perception as had been done by Restany on his behalf in the invitations to the 1956 exhibition. He was no longer afraid to confront his audience’s subjective expectations and lack of comprehension of his work. On the contrary, he anticipated viewers’ expectations of the exhibition and took advantage of them so that the reality of the show would correspond with those expectations on both sides. Klein’s plan succeeded, making The Void an exceptional event successful among artists, critics, and other viewers. 

The construction of the real: a post-structuralist perspective on Nouveau Réalisme

The Void exhibition explicitly reveals the reason why art underwent such a transformation in the 1950–1960s, which has to do with the social changes of the time. The features of this new reality were reflected in structuralist and post-structuralist theory, which can provide a key to the art of the Nouveaux Réalistes—both because it came into being around the same time and because it appealed to the very same reality that constituted the focus of its thought. 
The first feature of the new reality described by Jean Baudrillard was a new system of communication. Communication had lost its complicated syntactic structure and passed into a binary and signaletic structure of question and response.(9) Reality had become simplified and begun to integrate responses into questions, like in a multiple-choice test where one of the answers must be the correct one. From here stems the increased concern with form, since wisely managing form means designing the response of an audience. It became possible to direct the viewer’s thought process towards a particular response, creating ‘the effect of the real within the sign itself,’(10) which is perfectly illustrated by the way The Void operated. Klein had incorporated numerous signals (an artificial restriction on the number of visitors, the National Guard, blue cocktails, and other opulent decorations) which transformed an empty room into a grand art event, sanctified by the aura of the exhibition that coded audience behaviour. 

The importance of this particular issue for Klein’s art is reaffirmed by one of his early works—the Yves Peintures booklet (1954). Rectangles of coloured paper—seemingly reproductions of larger monochromes—were pasted into the book and signed, with the title and dimensions of each provided. The idea that the major theme is the originality of ‘the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction’ is out of the question here. But through this reference, Klein evoked the same problem of automatic behaviour patterns when form (here, the conventional form of an art catalogue) determines content, or rather its perception. Nan Rosenthal shed light on one unremarkable but significant detail: the dimensions in Yves Peintures were given without units of measurement. This omission was balanced out by the convention of giving artworks’ dimensions in centimetres, which tacitly provided the artworks’ size. However, Klein’s captions turned out to refer not the original artworks, which had been allegedly miniaturised, but to the exact height and width of the coloured papers in millimetres.(11) Therefore, despite lacking certain elements, the conventional form of a catalogue imposed a predetermined logic of perception and, importantly, guided the viewer towards a false conclusion, forcing him to assume that the original work was a reproduction.

Another feature of reality also reflected in this booklet was the spread of simulacra. An obvious assumption made by the viewer would be that the coloured papers in Yves Peintures were not artworks, shown alongside their own dimensions, but reproductions, thus turning them into copies without originals, since the originals (as proven)(12) never existed for them. But a perfect example of how the real could be replaced by signs of the real, which create an effect of the real and ‘threaten the difference between “true” and “false,” between “real” and “imaginary,”’(13)  was given in the newspaper Dimanche, published for the 2nd Festival of Avant-Garde Art in 1960. The issue, a hyperreal casting of the original newspaper that imitated its compositional layout, format, and type, was sent to the Parisian newsstands and, ‘in accordance with the law,’ was also delivered to the Ministry of Culture and Communication. This simulation was extended (and at the same time, multiplied) by the picture on the title page, Leap into the Void, in which Klein is depicted in flight. It was meant to represent the artist, having jumped off the second story, reaching artistic apotheosis instead of falling, as well as his ability to reach space and be the first artist there if he wished to. The act was obviously fake, as there was bedding prepared for him by his friends on the ground below. What is more interesting, however, is that not only the simulation of reality but also its destabilization was embedded in this particular photo collage, as opposed to a ‘stabilized pictorial sensibility.’ A bicyclist in the background, initially captured by the camera, was sporadically removed from the constructed landscape, as for example in the catalogue of the Yves Klein Monochrome and Fire exhibition (fig.2).(14)

fig.2 Yves Klein. Leap into the Void. 1960 © Yves Klein Archive

Finally, the third characteristic of the reality described primarily by Jacques Derrida was the actualisation of the notion of a parergon—a decoration or frame that is not an intrinsic aspect of the artwork, but which could readily change its function from supplementary to constitutive. Baudrillard wrote that an object’s environment (l’ambiance), its wrapper (e.g. glass), in some respect became more functional than the object itself.(15) As Denys Riout pointed out, such an inversion of roles occurred in The Void exhibition of Yves Klein. One could perceive ‘the combination of the event’s constituent parts, from the invitations to the blue cocktail running under the blue canopy, etc., as a solid whole, as a parergon(16) integrated into the artwork, a sort of frame which was painted by the artist and which cannot be replaced without damaging the unity of the creation into which it had been integrated.’(17)

The ‘object / envelope’ scheme(18)  (alternatively, ‘ergon / parergon,’ or ‘reference / discourse’) simultaneously became a crucial element of the Nouveaux Réalistes’ discourse and their method of generating forms.
If we approach Affichiste art from a structuralist point of view, the same implications—the suppression of the centre by discourse—become evident in their predominant technique of décollage. Rosalind Krauss noted that collage (and although décollage is grammatically opposed to collage, semantically it perfectly matches Krauss’s statement) is ‘setting up discourse in place of presence, a discourse founded in a buried origin.’ According to her, ‘collage’s very fullness of form is grounded in this forced impoverishment of the ground—a ground both supplemented and supplanted.’(19)

The same problem of the relationship between a centred object and its surroundings is evident in the methods exploited by César. His ‘enveloped objects’ (Envahissements)—for example, shoes or a typewriter wrapped in plastic—were ‘designed to underscore the very heart of the subject: discourses in which the subject is the object.’(20) 

The strategy of enveloping things became pivotal for Christo, who was tied up with the Nouveaux Réalistes but whose art obviously went beyond this movement. He began wrapping objects in 1957, at first using opaque cloths reminiscent of canvas and transforming the painting surface itself into the packaging—as in the Package of 1961. Christo’s first artworks were marked by an expressiveness that could be easily achieved with this technique. Christo would paint or put lacquer on top of the cloth; however, he soon moved on to using transparent polyethylene, which shifted the focus away from the formal traits of the artwork and towards its conceptual premise. Polyethylene gives the illusion of instant recognition but prevents the viewer from grasping the essence of an object. A package, while protecting the artwork, at the same time serves as a barrier which mediates communication (fig.3).

fig.3 Christo. Wrapped Telephone. 1962 © Christo

This conclusion from the exploration of reality is a commonality between the art of Christo and Yves Klein. When in the Galerie Apollinaire, where Klein had already exhibited before, Christo presented wrapped quotidian objects, like chair or bicycles, he was also following in Klein’s footsteps in setting up the problem. One of the objectives was to challenge the mechanisation of the viewer’s perception since, as Lawrence Alloway said, ‘when a known object cannot be operated in the customary ways, the reflexes of the spectator, in terms of expectation and reaction, are aroused, but suspended.’(21) However, if we compare Christo with Klein, we should also examine the Store Fronts of the former, which became part of the Documenta 4 show in 1968. The void which invaded art in the 1960s, according to Gilbert Lascault, was in Christo’s case not only deserted, uninhabited, and, perhaps, uninhabitable, but also ‘irremediably inaccessible.’(22) The Store Fronts delivered the same idea of packaging reality but approached it architecturally: they were curtained off. Their exterior was reminiscent of The Void exhibition, but without its discursive attributes. The entrance, which was painted by Klein and veiled by Christo, resolved into a barrier that revealed the misleading nature of glass. However, if Klein invited viewers to experience the void, Christo seemed to showcase the essential impossibility of insight: his constructions very rarely exceeded one meter in depth. In this context, the Kassel work Corridor Store Front is doubly exemplary. It looks, from inside and outside, like a long corridor with store fronts on both sides. The spectator seemed to pass inward, but the impenetrable display glass accompanied him at every step (fig.4).

fig.4 Christo. Corridor Store Front. 1967—1968 © Christo

The design of Christo’s Store Fronts evoked another important reference to windows which appeared shut and demonstrated the impossibility of relying on a conventional world view, on a calibrated vision (fig.5). This allusion cannot be assumed to be accidental if we consider Christo’s links to classical culture. He intentionally called some of his Packages bas-reliefs, using a conventional term from the vocabulary of classical art. Christo’s Big Black Package (1969) was once compared to Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa on the grounds of their shared dramatic flow of folds.(23) However, it would be even more fitting to compare it not to Bernini’s sculpture, which, although picturesque, does not conceal its marble surface, but to the stucco moulding in baroque architecture that imitates, or rather simulates, a different medium. It seems indicative that Jean Baudrillard defined stucco as a variant of simulacra.(24) 

fig.5 Christo. Green Store Front. 1964 © Christo

Time-based practice as the breaking down of reality

It is possible to claim that the Nouveaux Réalistes, in their attempt to approach the real, appropriated real objects and materials, but also, and more importantly, seemed to either consciously or subconsciously adopt poststructuralist optics and embrace the new structural framework of reality described by contemporary philosophers and implement it in the forms of their artworks. They revealed and exposed the mechanisms of this new system, which could be called a ‘system of objects’ after Jean Baudrillard. But that does not mean that they agreed with it, with this brand-new world. On the contrary, they rejected it and looked for ways to oppose it. 

We have defined two such ways that consequently brought the Nouveaux Réalistes to time-based practices.

The first is a struggle with a petrified moment. Roland Barthes wrote that bourgeois ideology ‘cannot rest until it has obscured the ceaseless making of the world, fixated this world into an object which can be for ever possessed, catalogued its riches, embalmed it, and injected into reality some purifying essence which will stop its transformation, its flight towards other forms of existence.’(25) This statement, in which the philosopher describes mythology’s tendency to immobilise the world, its desire for ‘fixated and frozen’ things, is reminiscent of Arman’s mummified accumulations or Martial Raysse’s plexiglas sculptures (fig.6). Apparently, the artists felt this oppressive cement nature of the new reality focused on consumption and visualised it in their art. In 1964, Arman wrote about this, echoing Barthes by saying that ‘there is a need of safety in the desire to accumulate; and there is a will to stop time in destruction and ravaging; to grasp events by gluing them and blocking in polyester.’(26) But, finding themselves opposed to this culture, the Nouveaux Réalistes were searching for strategies to escape it, to establish the idea of constant movement and vivification against this tendency of consolidation myths that had begun to define reality—an idea that they reflected in their ‘realist’ object art.

fig.6 Martial Raysse. Colonne au cosmonaute. 1960
© Galerie Natalie Seroussi

The discovery of kinetic art became the first strategy for achieving instability and mobility, and the main its adherent was Jean Tinguely. His artworks were mostly mechanically put in motion, such as the Balubas objects that started dancing when pedalled. The artist often emphasised that, by working with motion, he staged impermanence. The process of constant modification of an artwork (sometimes leading to its complete destruction) was its most important part and brought up the new practice of happening.

Significant is Tinguely’s lecture Art, Machines and Motion held at the Cyclo-Matic Evening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, on 12 November 1959. The artist sat silently on a pedestal while the manifesto For Statics was broadcast from the loudspeakers. The manifesto had been recorded on two different magnetic tapes, which were played asynchronously and therefore shattered the statics (stasis) and prevented each word from acquiring a stable and fixed state.
In 1960, also at the ICA, Daniel Spoerri staged a similar performance. Three individuals—two men and one woman—read texts from papers that had been looped around a rotating supporting bar that caused the papers to physically turn.(27) The non-simultaneous delivery of the communicated questions (‘Why did you come tonight?’, ‘What is art?’, and ‘How real is realism in actuality?’) transformed the recital into a hardly discernible buzz. This complicated not only the questions themselves, but also answers to them, contrasting with the tendency within consumerist society to quickly find a solution to each arising problem. In the accompanying instructional brochure Texts Read from a Mobile Axis, Spoerri explained that the work was an ‘attempt to reproduce in an unpredetermined way certain things which are predetermined.’(28)

It is fitting to mention here the unique initiative of Daniel Spoerri, the Edition MAT (Multiplication d’Art Transformable), a collection of multiples that the artist started producing in 1959 in collaboration with Galerie Der Spiegel in Cologne. Portable objects that were uniquely ‘transformable’ or mobile ‘invited the spectator to alter their dimensions, to change or otherwise complete them.’(29) The project allowed up to 100 editions per work and each of them (unlike a pop-art multiple) was potentially different from the other.

The aforementioned strategy of exploring the mode of motion, particularly in kinetic constructions, was preeminently Tinguely’s domain and was not so widely followed by the other Nouveaux Réalistes. But within the same paradigm of constant change and impermanence lay not only Tinguely’s works, but also Arman’s or César’s objects, which were doomed to destruction, and Christo’s giant packages. The brevity of their existence was intentionally inserted into the concept of these new artworks. Christo explained their short life as a means to discover freedom in reality, which incessantly strives to fixate things, stopping their transformation so that they would be catalogued and forever possessed.(30) ‘Our work is about freedom. Freedom is the enemy of possession, and possession is the equal of permanence. This is why the work cannot stay,’ Christo said himself and his collaborator Jeanne-Claude.(31)

A more frequently used strategy of escaping predetermined patterns and algorithms was an appeal to the aesthetics of chance. It should be emphasised that Tinguely’s moving machines were not meant to be robots that would perform a particular range of moving functions. This range was almost infinite and rarely under the control of a viewer or the artist. The machine’s behaviour was governed by chance. It was remarked upon by Calvin Tomkins, among others, who wrote that Tinguely’s meta-matics represented a ‘most inspired application of the functional use of chance.’(32)

Chance aesthetics has a dada heritage which concurrently with the Nouveaux Réalistes was discovered by an American artist George Brecht. In his essay Chance Imagery (1957), he recalled Marcel Duchamp and his work 3 Stoppages Etalon, which he made by letting a one meter long thread fall onto the canvas and fixing it with a trickle of varnish ‘into the chance convolution in which it fell.’(33) An almost identical method was used by Daniel Spoerri in creating his snare-pictures (tableaux-pièges) by mounting randomly ordered objects on a surface. Spoerri’s book An Anecdotal Topography of Chance (1962) showed that the logic of chance deserved as much attention as a thoughtful plan; it mapped quotidian objects laying randomly on his table and provided an accurate description of each in the span of fifty-three pages.

Chance similarly guided the creative process of Yves Klein’s Anthropometries, which ironically correlated with Jackson Pollock’s ‘action paintings.’(34) Niki de Saint Phalle’s aesthetic outcome was similarly determined by chance: much of her work ‘was subjected to the “laws of chance” and accident.’(35)

Another way how to disrupt the ‘system of objects’ for the Nouveaux Réalistes was to understand the market relations essential to it and undermine them by transforming their works of art. The Nouveaux Réalistes cannot necessarily be called dedicated critics of then-existing economic model, but it would be fair to say that they explored it as one of the aspects of the new reality which they aimed to circumvent.

The possessive spirit nourished by the new bourgeois culture had already been grasped by the Nouveaux Réalistes in their objects, packages and other captive things. Their time-based practices in their turn compromised the very possibility of applying market mechanisms.

Yves Klein, for instance, started working with the immaterial—that is, something which could not be weighed, counted, labelled, and—certainly—resold. One of his most important works is the sale of the Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility, which can be considered a ‘protoconceptual critique of objecthood and authorship.’(36) Klein invoiced a collector for such a zone and obtained certain quantities of gold, which was partly thrown into the Seine, partly donated to his patron Saint Rita of Cascia. Significant is the fact that Klein bestowed on himself the functions of the gallery to sell his work—not to get a better profit from the deal, but to change standard procedure, to substitute gold for money. This was done not because gold value guaranteed currency convertibility, but because for the artist gold stood against conditional exchange value and conditional market relations. For Klein, gold seemed to be an unconditional value, a gauge, absolute like his Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility.(37) In this regard, it is notable that fire, which is semantically and visually linked to gold, had been used by Klein early on, and in the 1960s, his fire paintings were succeeded by the Monogolds.

Another strategy to overcome the possessiveness of consumerist culture was a recourse to public space, which was mainly used by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. As Jean Baudrillard wrote, public architecture had become ‘monuments (or anti-monuments) to advertising,’ transforming into ‘gigantic spaces of circulation, ventilation and ephemeral connections.’(38) By occupying public space, the artists temporarily liberated it from its fate as a feature of consumer society. Secondly, due to their public status, the buildings and landscapes that were used by Christo and Jeanne-Claude could not become sale objects. As a result, a building, monument, bridge, or natural landscape were for a certain time totally withdrawn from consumerist reality to exist in an artistic one.

§ Conclusion

It becomes evident that the art of the Nouveaux Réalistes evolved in two ways. The artists dipped into reality and appropriated its content, but also extracted its schemes and principles of existence in order to reveal them in their object art. At the same time, their time-based practices stood against their objects and were built upon principles antithetic to those of the reality, a frustrating and unsatisfying fact for the artists.


(1) The initial cast of the group included Yves Klein, Arman, Jean Tinguely, Martial Raysse, François Dufrêne, Jacques Villeglé, Raymond Hains, and Daniel Spoerri. Later they were joined by Christo, Niki de Saint Phalle, César, Mimmo Rotella, and Gérard Deschamps.

(2) Gerard Durozoi, Le Nouveau Réalisme, Paris 2007, p.18.

(3) Kerry Brougher, et al., Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, exhibition catalogue, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington 2010, p.108.
(4) Yves Klein, 1928–1962: Selected Writings, trans. by Barbara Wright, London 1974, p.55.

(5) Ibid., p.30.

(6) Yves Klein Archives, http://www.yvesklein
archives.org/documents/bio_fr.html, accessed 28 August 2015. 

(7) Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975, Cambridge and London 2003, p.266.

(8) Kaira M. Cabañas, The Myth of Nouveau Réalisme: Art and the Performative in Postwar France, New Haven and London 2013, p.43.

(9) Jean Baudrillard, L’Échange Symbolique et la Mort, Paris 1976, p.97.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Yve-Alain Bois, ‘Klein’s Relevance for Today’, October, no.119, Winter 2007, p.81.

(12) Kerry Brougher, et al. 2010, p.48.

(13) Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, trans. by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman, New York 1983, pp.4–5.

(14) Kaira M. Cabañas 2013, p.60.

(15) Jean Baudrillard, Le Système des Objets, Paris 1968, pp.59–60.

(16) Italicisation by Denys Riout.

(17) Denys Riout, Yves Klein: Manifester l'Immatériel, Paris 2004, p.60.
(18) The term choice is justified by the frequent usage of this particular word (‘enveloppe’) by the Nouveaux Réalistes.

(19) Rosalind E. Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, Cambridge and London 1986, p.38.

(20) Pierre Restany, César, New York 1976, p.162.

(21) Rudy Chiappini (ed.), Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Geneva and Milan 2006, p.32.

(22) Jean Cassou, et al., Art and Confrontation: France and the Arts in an Age of Change, trans. by Nigel Foxell, London 1970, p.64. 

(23) Rudy Chiappini (ed.) 2006, pp.27–8.

(24) Jean Baudrillard 1976, p.80.

(25) Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. by Annette Lavers, New York 1991, p.156.

(26) Pop Art. Nouveau Réalisme. 23ème Festival Belge d’Été, exhibition catalogue, Casino de Knokke le Zoute, Bruxelles 1970, not paginated.

(27) Kaira M. Cabañas 2013, p.97.

(28) Ibid.

(29) Nicole L. Woods, ‘Niki de Saint Phalle and the Operatic Multiple’, Art Expanded, 1958–1978, vol.2 of Living Collections Catalogue, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 2015, http://www.walkerart.org/
collections/publications/art-expanded/pop–gun, accessed 05 November 2015. 

(30) Roland Barthes 1991, p.156.

(31) Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Köln 2001, p.80.

(32) Calvin Tomkins, The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant Garde, Harmondsworth 1976, p.163. 

(33) George Brecht, ‘Chance Imagery’, in Margaret Iversen (ed.), Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art), London and Cambridge 2010, p.37. 

(34) David Hopkins, After Modern Art: 1945–2000, Oxford 2000, p.83.
(35) Nicole L. Woods 2015. 

(36) Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss; Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, London 2004, p.436.

(37) Denys Riout 2004, p.90. 

(38) Jean Baudrillard, ‘The Ecstasy of Communication’, in Hal Foster (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Washington 1983, p.130.