Due to the fact
that I have painted monochromes for fifteen years,
Due to the
fact that I have created pictorial immaterial states,
Due to the
fact that I have manipulated the forces of the void,
Due to the
fact that I have sculpted with fire
and with water painted with fire and with water,
Due to the
fact that I have painted with living brushes - in other words, the nude
body of live models covered with paint: these living brushes were under
the constant direction of my commands, such as "a little to the right;
over to the left now: to the right again, etc.."By maintaining myself
at a specific and obligatory distance from the surface to be painted, I
am able to resolve the problem of detachment.
Due to the
fact that I have invented the architecture and the urbanism of air - of
course, this new conception transcends the traditional meaning of the terms
"architecture and urbanism" - my goal from the beginning was
to reunite with the legend of Paradise Lost. This project was directed
toward the habitable surface of the Earth by the climatization of the great
geographical expanses through an absolute control over the thermal and
atmospheric situation in their relation to our morphological and psychical
Due to the
fact that I have proposed a new conception of music with my "monotone
- silence - symphony"
Due to the
fact that I have presented a theatre of the void,
among countless other adventures...
I would never
have believed, fifteen years ago at the time of my earliest efforts, that
I would suddenly feel the need to explain myself - to satisfy the desire
to know the reason of all that has occurred and the even still more dangerous
effect, in other words - the influence my art has had on the young generation
of artists throughout the world today.
me to hear that a certain number of them think that I represent a danger
to the future of art - that I am one of those disastrous and noxious results
of our time that must be crushed and destroyed before the propagation of
my evil completely takes over.
I regret to
reveal that this was not my intention; and to happily proclaim to those
who evince faith in the multiplicity of new possibilities in the path that
I prescribe - Take care! Nothing has crystallized as yet; nor can I say
what will happen after this. I can only say that today I am no longer as
afraid as I was yesterday in the face of the souvenir of the future.
always feels uneasy when called upon to speak of his own work. It should
speak for itself, particularly when it is valid.
What can I
do? Stop now?
No, what I
call "the indefinable pictorial sensibility" absolutely escapes
this very personal solution.
I think of
those words I was once inspired to write. "Would not the future artist
be he who expressed through an eternal silence an immense painting possessing
like any other public, would carry this immense painting in their memory
(a remembrance which does not derive at all from the past, but is solely
cognizant of the indefinable sensibility of man).
It is necessary
to create and recreate a constant physical fluidity in order to receive
the grace which allows a positive creativity of the the void.
Just as I
created a "monotone
- silence - symphony" in 1947, composed in two parts, - one broad
continuous sound followed by an equally broad and extended silence, endowed
with a limitless dimension - in the same way, I attempt to set before you
a written painting of the short history of my art, followed naturally by
a pure and effective silence.
will close with the creation of a compelling a posteriori silence whose
existence in our communal space, after all - the space of a single being
- is immune to the destructive qualities of physical noise.
upon the success of my written painting in its initial technical and audible
phase. Only then will the extraordinary a posteriori silence, in the midst
of noise as well as in the cell of physical silence, operate in a new and
unique zone of pictorial immaterial sensibility.
today this point in space and knowledge, I propose to gird my loins, then
to draw back in retrospection of the diving board of my evolution. In the
manner of an Olympic diver, in the most classic technique of the sport,
I must prepare for my leap into the future of today by prudently moving
backward, without ever losing sight of the edge, today consciously attained
- the immaterialization of art.
What is the
purpose of the retrospective journey in time?
wish to avoid that you or I fall under the power of that phenomenon of
dreams, which describes the feelings and landscapes provoked by our brusque
landing in the past. This psychological past is precisely the anti-space
that I put behind me during the adventures of these past fifteen years.
I am particularly excited by "bad taste". I have the deep feeling
that there exists in the very essence of bad taste a power capable of creating
those things situated far beyond what is traditionally termed "The
Work of Art". I wish to play with human feeling, with its "morbidity"
in a cold and ferocious manner. Only very recently I have become a sort
of grave digger of art (oddly enough, I am using the very terms of my enemies).
Some of my latest works have been coffins and tombs. During the same time
I succeeded in painting with fire, using particularly powerful and searing
gas flames, some of them measuring three to four meters high. I use these
to bathe the surface of the painting in such a way that it registered the
spontaneous trace of fire.
In sum, my
goal is twofold: first of all, to register the trace of human sentimentality
in present-day civilization; and then, to register the trace of fire, which
has engendered this very same civilization - that of the fire itself. And
all of this because the void has always been my constant preoccupation;
and I believe that fires burn in the heart of the void as well as in the
heart of man.
that are contradictory are authentic principles of an explanation of the
universe. Truly, fire is one of these principles, essentially contradictory,
one from the other, since it is both the sweetness and torture that lies
at the heart and origin of our civilization. But what stirs this search
for feeling in me through the making of super-graves and super coffins?
What stirs this search in me for the imprint of fire? Why search for the
work of creation, regardless of its cosmic place, is the representation
of a pure phenomenology - all that is phenomena manifests itself. This
manifestation is always distinct from form and it is the essence of the
Immediate, the Trace of the Immediate.
A few months
ago, for example, I felt the urge to register the signs of atmospheric
behavior by recording the instantaneous traces of spring showers on a canvas,
of south winds, and of lightning (needless to say, the last-mentioned ended
in a catastrophe). For instance, a trip from Paris to Nice might have been
a waste of time had I not spent it profitably by recording the wind. I
placed a canvas, freshly coated with paint, on the roof of my white Citron.
As I drove down Route National 7 at 100 kilometers an hour, the heat, the
cold, the light, the wind, and the rain all combined to age my canvas prematurely.
At least thirty to forty years were condensed into a single day. The only
annoying thing about this project is that for the entire trip I was unable
to separate myself from my painting.
imprints of a few months ago were preceded by vegetal imprints. After all,
my air is to extract and obtain the trace of the immediate from all natural
objects, whatever their origin - be the circumstance human, animal, vegetable,
I would like
now, with you permission and close attention, to divulge to you possibly
the most important and certainly the most secret phase of my art. I do
not know if you are going to believe me - it is cannibalism. After all,
is it not preferable to be eaten that to be bombed to death? I can hardly
develop this idea that has tormented me for years. I leave it up to you
to draw you own conclusions with regard to the future of art.
If we step
back again, following the lines of my evolution, we arrive at the moment
when I conceived of painting with the aid of living brushes. That was two
years ago. The purpose of this was to be able to attain a defined and constant
distance between myself and the painting during the time of creation.
claimed that by this method of painting I was doing nothing more that recreating
the method that has been called "action painting". But now, I
would like to make it clear that this endeavor is distinct from "action
painting" in so far as I am completely detached from all physical
work during the time of creation.
Just to cite
one example of the anthropometric errors found within the deformed ideas
spread by the international press - I speak of that group of Japanese painters
who with great refinement used my method in a strange way. In fact, these
painters actually transformed themselves into living brushes. By diving
themselves in color and then rolling on their canvases, they became representative
of ultra-action-painters! Personally, I would never attempt to smear paint
over my body and thus to become a living brush; to the contrary, I would
rather put on my tuxedo and don white gloves.
It would never
cross my mind to soil my hands with paint. Detached and distant, the work
of art must be completed under my eyes and under my command. As the work
begins its completion, I stand there - present at the ceremony, immaculate,
calm, relaxed, perfectly aware of what is taking place and ready to receive
the art being born into the tangible world.
me towards anthropometry? The answer can be bound in the work that I make
during the years 1956 to 1957 while I took part in the giant adventure,
the creation of pictorial immaterial sensibility.
I had just
removed from my studio all earlier works. The result - an empty studio.
All that I could physically do was to remain in my empty studio and the
pictorial immaterial states of creation marvelously unfolded. However,
little by little, I became mistrustful of myself, but never of the immaterial.
From that moment, following the example of all painters, I hired models.
But unlike the other, I merely wanted to work in their company rather than
have them pose for me. I had been spending too much time alone in the empty
studio; I no longer wanted to remain alone with the marvelous blue void
which was in the process of opening.
strange, remember that I was perfectly aware of the fact that I experienced
none of that vertigo, felt by all my predecessors, when they found themselves
face to face with the absolute void that is, quite naturally, true pictorial
But how long
could my security in this awareness endure?
the artist went directly to his subject, worked outdoors in the country,
had his feet firmly planted on the ground - it was healthy.
have become academics and have reached the point of shutting themselves
in their studios in order to confront the terrifying mirrors of their canvases.
Now the reason I was pushed to use nude models is all but evident: it was
a way of preventing the danger of secluding myself in the overly spiritual
spheres of creation, thus breaking with the most basic common sense repeatedly
affirmed by our incarnate condition.
of the body, its lines, its strange colors hovering between life and death,
hold no interest for me. Only the essential, pure affective climate of
the flesh is valid.
nothingness, I discovered the void. The meaning of the immaterial pictorial
zones, extracted from the depth of the void which by that time was of a
very material order. Finding it unacceptable to sell these immaterial zones
for money, I insisted in exchange for the highest quality of the immaterial,
the highest quality of material payment - a bar of pure gold. Incredible
as it may seem, I have actually sold a number of these pictorial immaterial
So much could
be said about my adventure in the immaterial and the void that the result
would be an overly extended pause while steeped in the present elaboration
of a written painting.
longer appeared to me to be functionally related to the gaze, since during
the blue monochrome period of 1957 I became aware of what I called the
pictorial sensibility. This pictorial sensibility exists beyond our being
and yet belongs in our sphere. We hold no right of possession over life
itself. It is only by the intermediary of our taking possession of sensibility
that we are able to purchase life. Sensibility enables us to pursue life
to the level of its base material manifestations, in the exchange and barter
that are the universe of space, the immense totality of nature.
is the vehicle of sensibility!
by (effective) imagination we attain life, that very life which is absolute
what mortal men call with a sensation of vertigo the summum of art, materializes
instantaneously. It makes its appearance in the tangible world, even as
I remain at a geometrically fixed point, in the wake of extraordinary volumetric
displacements with a static and vertiginous speed.
of the conditions that led me to pictorial sensibility, is to be found
in the intrinsic power of the monochromes of my blue period of 1957. This
period of blue monochromes was the fruit of my quest for the indefinable
in painting which Delacroix the master could already intimate in his time.
to 1946, my monochrome experiments, tried with various other colors than
blue, never allowed me to lose sight of the fundamental truth of our time
- namely that form, henceforth, would no longer be a simple linear value,
but rather a value of impregnation. Once, in 1946, while still an adolescent,
I was to sign my name on the other side of the sky during a fantastic "realistico-imaginary"
journey. That day, as I lay stretched upon the beach of Nice, I began to
feel hatred for birds which flew back and forth across my blue, cloudless
sky, because they tried to bore holes in my greatest and most beautiful
Thus, we humans
will have acquired the right to evolve in full liberty without any physical
and spiritual constraint.
nor rockets nor sputniks will render man the "conquistador" of
derive only from the phantom of today's scientists who still live in the
romantic and sentimental spirit of the XIX century.
Man will only
be able to take possession of space through the terrifying forces, the
ones imprinted with peace and sensibility. He will be able to conquer space
- truly his greatest desire - only after having realized the impregnation
of space by his own sensibility. His sensibility can even read into the
memory of nature, be it of the past, of the present, and of the future!
It is our
true extra-dimensional capacity for action!
precedents or predecessors are needed, let me then cite Dante, who in the
Divine Comedy, described with absolute precision what no traveler of his
time could reasonably have discovered, the invisible constellation of the
Northern Hemisphere known as the Southern Cross;
in his Voyage to Laputa, gave the distances and periods of rotation of
two satellites of Mars though they were unknown at the time;
astronomer, Asoph Hall, discovered them in 1877, he realized that his measurements
were the same as those of Swift. Seized by panic, he named them Phobos
and Deimos, Fear and Terror! With these two words - Fear and Terror - I
find myself before you in the year 1946, ready to dive into the void.
Long Live the Immaterial !
Thank you for your kind attention.