Jacques Villegle /   Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé

France 1926

Nouveau Réalisme

Jacques Villegle
Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé
August 11, 2014
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A man that has kept his eyes on the walls of Paris since 1949, constantly searching for interesting posters he can use, Jacques Villegle is a French mixed-media artist that is known for his mastery of the decollage technique. This method is an opposite to the concept of collage – instead of an illustration being built up from parts of different images, it is created by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing pieces of images that have been stacked upon each other. He is also responsible for the development of a special kind of alphabet consisted of symbolic letters and is a successful affichiste (the French word for a poster artist or poster designer). All in all, Jacques Villegle is one of the most versatile and unique artists of the 20th century.

Jacques Villegle - Boulevard de la gare, 1973 - news of the Villeglé street
Jacques Villegle – Boulevard de la gare, 1973

New Concepts In Art

Jacques Villegle was born in the year of 1926, in the small town of Quimper, located in the northwestern France. He had a happy childhood up until the start of the World War II. Although he eventually ended up far from it, Villegle started his artistic explorations by studying architecture at the legendary Ecole des Beaux-Arts. After a few unpredictable turns of events, Jacques abandoned his studies in 1949 and decided to turn the next page of his life. He desired something new, unexplored, completely his – with these goals he began collecting found objects from the streets to construct pictorial tableaux, usually by mounting them on canvas. He gathered steel wires, fallen of posters, bricks from Saint-Malo’s Atlantic retaining wall and, most importantly, posters that were scattered all over the streets of Paris. However, instead of simply making collages, he began doing damages to posters and by doing so established the decollage technique. During these years, Villegle worked alongside his friend Raymond Hains, another man that wanted to experiment with art. In June 1953, Jacques published Hepérile Éclaté, a phonetic poem by Camille Bryen, which was made unreadable until viewed through strips of grooved glass made by Hains. This is only one of the examples of how the duo experimented with artistic ideas. The journey of discovering new ways of expressing was not an easy one as it took a lot of time for the public to accept these designs. Villegle had to wait for nearly a decade before he was able to hold his first solo exhibition at the Colette Allendy Gallery. Three years later, in 1960, Jacques’s work served as a cornerstone for the manifest of the Nouveau Realistes, a new moment in art history often compared to the Pop-art that will come to be in the decades that followed.

Jacques Villegle’s earlier works were very dark in character…

Jacques Villegle - Bleu O Noir, 1955 - news of the Villeglé street
Jacques Villegle – Bleu O noir, 1955

Villegle’s Decollages

As was explained beforehand, Jacques Villegle developed his technique by gathering torn advertising posters and collaging them together, transforming them into striking compositions. He went by his famous saying: The whole world makes work for me. I only have to collect it. His depictions varied in type, covering everything from humor to eroticism, from light-headed satyrs to strong political criticism. Each of his works bears the name of the street where the poster was collected – that way Villegle was able to show homage to the previous purposes of his materials and to avoid unnecessary complications. He constructed and manipulated images by stacking posters over each other, having the top posters ripped and by doing so revealing to a greater or lesser degree the ones underneath. Since the December of 1949 when he began his decollage practices, his art evolved over time. In the start, his work was dark in color and he mostly focused on concepts close to typography – a typical example of such early pieces is the Arts Ménagers: Avril 1958, a cartoon sketch of a pair of eyes that stare out from the centre of the canvas, an area of paper suggests a jaw line and hints of letters are dotted about. Jacques Villegle was pushed towards further experimentation because too many critics were comparing his works to Cubist painting and so he altered his style in the following years, operating with brighter colors and more imagery as opposed to typography. Jacques also experimented with shapes at the time while his piece became increasingly sexual in nature. Like an urban archeologist of a sort, Villegle tirelessly categorized his works under various themes like painting, politics, events, transparency, etc.

…while his mature pieces show much more color and energy

Jacques Villegle - 122 rue du temple, 1968 - news of the Villeglé street
Jacques Villegle – 122 rue du temple, 1968

One Of The Key Moments In Modern Art

Now a man in his nineties, Jacques Villegle’s career with decollages and posters is over. It simply became too demanding physically for him to handle without issues. His last decollage piece was made on his 80th birthday celebration and it was a depiction of Jacques in many different colors. Since parting ways with posters, nowadays, Villegle concentrates mostly on his drawings and writing. Although retired from the world of decollages, this artist remains a true embodiment of a way modern artists of the 20th century used to think, develop ideas and concepts. Villegle personally invented a whole new way of manipulating images at a time when abstract paintings were the only thing worth mentioning in the art circles. And by doing so he helped write some of the most important pages of modern art history.

The artist is represented by Joël Knafo Art in Paris and Allouche Gallery in New York.

Jacques Villegle lives and works in Paris, France.

Featured Image: Jacques Villegle – Photo of the artist – Photo Credits Asiaone
All Images Photo Credits Jacques Villegle

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014Des Hommes, Des MondesCollege des Bernardins, ParisGroup
2014Fata Morgana  - IKOBMuseum für Zeitgenössische Kunst Eupen, EupenGroup
2013Jacques VillegléCortex Athletico Galerie - Art Contemporain, BordeauxSolo
2013Une tradition matérielle  - FRAC - PoitouCharentes, AngoulêmeGroup
2013Ruhestörung - Streifzüge durch die Welt der CollageKunstmuseum Ahlen, AhlenGroup
2013Ruhe-Störung - Streifzüge durch die Welten der CollageMARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2013B.A.B.E - The Best Artists Books and EditorsImmanence, espace d'art contemporain, ParisGroup
2013Propos d'Europe 11 : La Plasticité du langageFondation Hippocrène, ParisGroup
2013De l'impressionnisme à l'abstraction, une immersionMusée des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Lô, Saint-LôGroup
2013Les Bains / artists residencyGalerie Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2013La Révolte et l'Ennui  - FRACAuvergne, Clermont FerrandGroup
2013Ulysses, l'autre mer  - FRACBretagne, ChâteaugironGroup
2013Poesia - Werke Sammlung Rik ReinkingStädtische Galerie Delmenhorst, DelmenhorstGroup
2013Collective Dis/IllusionsThe Mayor Gallery, LondonGroup
2013Une exposition sans textes. Suite pour exposition(s) et publication(s),deuxième mouvementMaison d'Art Bernard Anthonioz, Nogent-sur MarneGroup
2013From picasso to koons: the artist as jewelerBass Museum of Art, Miami, FLGroup
201310 Ans De Mauvaise ReputationEspace A Vendre, NiceGroup
2013Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Chicago, ILGroup
2012Hains - RotellaGalleria Il Ponte, FlorenceGroup
2012Art & Entreprise #1 - Collection GéotecGalerie Barnoud, DijonGroup
2012L'Art en Guerre, France 1938-1947 - De Picasso a DubuffetMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, ParisGroup
2012La Collection Michael WernerMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, ParisGroup
2012Summer Group ShowVicky David Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Le Confort ModerneLe Confort Moderne, PoitiersGroup
2012Art = Life = Art | Dada > FluxusMUSEION, Museum für moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst , BolzanoGroup
2012Selected Works By Gallery ArtistsMODERNISM, San Francisco, CAGroup
2011Testimone del suo tempoGalleria L'Incontro, Chiari, BsSolo
2011Jacques VillegléDécollages From The 1960s To 1990s - MODERNISM, San Francisco, CASolo
2011Jacques Villeglé: Trajectoire Urbaine  Alexia Goethe Gallery, London (closed)Solo
2011Group showGalerie Georges, Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisGroup
2011From Trash To Treasure - Vom Wert des Wertlosen in der KunstKunsthalle zu Kiel, KielGroup
2011Schrift und BildMuseum Kunstpalast, DusseldorfGroup
2011Now: Obras De La Colección JumexInstituto Cultural Cabañas, GuadalajaraGroup
2011Atlas. How to carry the world on one's back?Deichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2011Tréméac L´art en partageMusée de l´abbaye Sainte-Croix, Les Sables d' OlonneGroup
2011Out of Storage: Provisoire & Définitif, MarresCentre for Contemporary Culture, MaastrichtGroup
2011Police !Galerie Natalie Seroussi, ParisGroup
2011Nikolas Gambaroff - Raymond Hains - Jacques VillegléStuart Shave / Modern Art, LondonGroup
2010La peinture dans le non peintureGalerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
2010Jacques Villeglé, des mots et des lettres, Chapelle De La VisitationEspace D'Art Contemporain, Thonon-Les-BainsSolo
2010Feu à volontéGalerie Sonia Zannettacci, GenevaGroup
2010The Good, The Bad & the UglyCultuurcentrum Mechelen, MechelenGroup
2010Art FrancaisSEM-ART Gallery, MonacoGroup
2010Nouveaux RéalistesGalerie Renée Ziegler, ZurichGroup
2010Press Art - Sammlung Annette und Peter NobelMuseum der Moderne - MdM Mönchsberg, SalzburgGroup
2010... avant il n’y avait rien, après on va pouvoir faire mieuxCircuit, LausanneGroup
2010Nuevos Realismos: 1957-62. Estrategias del objeto, entre readymade y espectáculoMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MadridGroup
2010ART LOFT Fine Art zu Gast bei Galerie Wild ZürichGalerie Wild - Zürich, ZurichGroup
2009Jean-Pierre Raynaud - Jacques VillegléGalerie Nathalie Obadia - Bruxelles, BrusselsGroup
2009Hainsoumis,Hainsolent,Hainsinuation…Galerie Albert Benamou, ParisGroup
2009a Hartung a Warhol. Presenze internazionali nella collezione CozzaniOpere dalle raccolte del CAMeC - CAMeC - Centro de Arte Moderna e Contemporanea della Spezia, La SpeziaGroup
2009COLLAGE, LONDON/NEW YORKFred [London] Ltd., LondonGroup
2009Passion d'art - Collections privéesMusée éphémère de Montélimar, MontélimarGroup
2009COLLAGE-DÉCOLLAGE: Burhan Dogancay - Jacques VillegléKunsthaus CentrePasquArt - Centre d'Art, Biel/BienneGroup
2009Dans l'oeil du critique - Bernard Lamarche-Vadel et les artistesMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, ParisGroup
2009Vive L´Art Urbain 2, UNIVEREspace de l'art contemporain, ParisGroup
2009Da Hartung a WarholCAMeC - Centro de Arte Moderna e Contemporanea della Spezia, La SpeziaGroup
2009Estampes, Modernes Et ContemporainesGalerie Pierre-Alain Challier, ParisGroup
2009ScriptoriaMUba Eugène Leroy, TourcoingGroup
2009Impacto! Obras de la colección olorVISUALFundació Vall Palou, LleidaGroup
2009L'arte è in... TavolaGalleria Arte e Arte, BolognaGroup
2009Vivre l'art - collection VenetEspace de l’art concret, Mouans SartouxGroup
2009Artists from the 60sThe Mayor Gallery, LondonGroup
2008Jacques Villegle dagli ani sessanta oggiAgnellini Arte Moderna, BresciaSolo
2008Jacques Villeglé - Opere scelteGalleria Arte e Arte, BolognaSolo
2008Jacques Villeglé  - Centre PompidouMusée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
2008Jacques Villeglé - DECOLLAGES FROM 1965 to 2006MODERNISM, San Francisco, CASolo
2008Jacques VillegléGalerie Sonia Zannettacci, GenevaSolo
2008Il Nouveau Réalisme dal 1970 ad oggi. Omaggio a Pierre RestanyPAC - Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, MilanGroup
2008Mimmo Rotella & Jacques VillegléThe Mayor Gallery, LondonGroup
2008Street Art, Street LifeBronx Museum of the Arts (BxMA), New York City, NYGroup
2008An unruly history of the readymadeFundación Jumex, Mexico CityGroup
20087th Gwangju BiennaleGwangju Biennale, GwangjuGroup
2008Signe Ecriture SigneMAMAC Musée d´Art Moderne et Contemporain, Liège (closed, 2012)Group
2008Mondo e Terra, La collezione del FRAC CorsicaMAN - Museo d`Arte di Nuoro, NuoroGroup
2008Peripheral vision and collective bodyMUSEION - Museum für moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst , BolzanoGroup
2008Collage - DécollagePera Museum, IstanbulGroup
2008Ad AbsurdumMARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2008Die Hände der KunstMARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2008Person Of The Crowd: The Contemporary Art Of FlânerieNeuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NYGroup
2008Jesuvian ProcessElizabeth Dee Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2007Jacques Villeglé : La lettre lacérée, 1955 - 1992Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
2007Les Nouveaux Réalistes ou le recyclage poétique du réel urbainGalerie Christophe Gaillard, ParisSolo
2007Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé: Ein Plakatabreißer aus Paris, Un Décollagiste ParisienStiftung Ahlers Pro Arte / Kestner Pro Arte, HannoveSolo
200720 ans du Musée d'Art Moderne - L'art après 1960 dans les collectionsMusée d'Art moderne de Saint-Etienne, Saint-EtienneGroup
2007Oeuvres encombrantesGalerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisGroup
2007CollageRussell Bowman Art Advisory, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Strappi alla regolaGalleria Colossi Arte Contemporanea, BresciaGroup
2007Klio - Eine kurze Geschichte der Kunst in Euramerika nach 1945ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, KarlsruheGroup
2007Papiers d’artistesGalerie Stella & Vega, BrestGroup
2007100 Jahre Kunsthalle MannheimStädtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, MannheimGroup
2007Le Nouveau RéalismeGaleries nationales du Grand Palais, ParisGroup
2007Jacques Villeglé et Raymond HainsGalerie Stella & Vega, BrestGroup
2006Jacques Villeglé - La pelle della cittàGalleria Tonelli, MilanSolo
2006Jacques VillegléCentre d’art contemporain de Quimper - le Quartier, QuimperSolo
2006Jacques VillegleGranville Gallery, GranvilleSolo
2006Jacques VillegleAlan Koppel Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2006Jacques Villeglé - Décollages & Drawings 1972-2005MODERNISM, San Francisco, CASolo
2006Altered, Stitched & GatheredMoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
2006busy going crazy. the Sylvio Perlstein collectionLa Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2006Arena der AbstraktionMuseum Morsbroich, LeverkusenGroup
2006Die Gesichter hinter den BildenThe Columns, SeoulGroup
2006Distorsions (1)IAC - Institut d'art contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, VilleurbanneGroup
2006les nouveaux réalistesGalerie Véronique Smagghe, ParisGroup
2006CityscapesGalerie Les Chantiers boîte noire, MontpellierGroup
2005Jacques Villeglé - Politiques 1957-1995Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
2005Villeglé sur les pas de Nestor BurmaGalerie Sonia Zannettacci, GenevaSolo
2005Golden KrustNicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2005La Collection en trois temps et quatre actesMAC Musées d´Art Contemporain Marseille, MarseilleGroup
2005Des Deux Cotes Du Rhin -MovementMuseum Ludwig, CologneGroup
2005Nouveau RéalismeMuseum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig - MUMOK , ViennaGroup
2005Réouverture du LAACLAAC - Lieu d'Art et Action Contemporaine de Dunkerque, DunkerqueGroup
2005Arte Contemporanea DueGalleria La Fenice, SassariGroup
2005Le monde comme un tableauL´Imagerie, LannionGroup
2004Selected WorksMODERNISM, San Francisco, CAGroup
2004Marilyn - From Anastasi to WeegeeSean Kelly Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2004Images PopGalerie Sonia Zannettacci, GenevaGroup
2004Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the PresentMori Art Museum, TokyoGroup
2004Nouveau Réalisme: les AffichistesGalerie Véronique Smagghe, ParisGroup
2003Jacques Villeglé - Sans Lettre, sans Figure 1951-1968Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
2003Jacques Villeglé - Héraldique et SubversionsMusée d'Art Contemporain Lyon, LyonSolo
2003Jacques Villeglé - Décollages 1959-2000MODERNISM, San Francisco, CASolo
2003PlakatabreißerStädtisches Museum Abteiberg, MönchengladbachGroup
2002V.I.P. 1 - Very Important PiecesMuseum Morsbroich, LeverkusenGroup
2001Jacques de la Villeglé - Works from 1955-91The Mayor Gallery, LondonSolo
2001Jacques Villeglé - Images 1949-1998Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
2001Heureux le visionnaireCentre de la Gravure et de l'Image imprimée, La LouvièreGroup
2000Gratture, Biffure & IncisureDomaine de Kerguéhennec - Centre d'Art Contemporain, BignanGroup
1999Jacques Villeglé: Fifty Years of DécollageUbu Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1999Jacques Villeglé - Mots 1949-1996Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, ParisSolo
1999Sam Messer, Kevin Landers, Jaques de la VillegleShoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1998The '60s in the SeventiesUbu Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1996The Gun: Icon of Twentieth Century ArtUbu Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
1995Les Fragmentes du désirFRAC - Nord-Pas de Calais, DunkerqueGroup
1994Murmures des ruesGalerie Art & Essai, RennesGroup
1992Arte PopMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MadridGroup
1988Aspecten van Kunst: Armoede Toeval VergankelijkheidSMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, GhentGroup
1979Nouveau RéalismeGalerie Heinz Holtmann, CologneGroup
1978Aspekte der 60er Jahre- Aus der Sammlung Reinhard OnnaschNeue Nationalgalerie, BerlinGroup
1971Jacques de la Villeglé. Retrospektiv 1949–1971Moderna Museet, StockholmSolo
1971Dufrêne, Hains, Rotella, Villeglé, VostellPlakatabrisse aus der Sammlung - Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, StuttgartGroup
1961The Art of AssemblageMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup