The French grandfather of street art, Jacques Villeglé, dies at 96

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French “grandfather” of street art, Jacques Villeglé died at the age of 96. He was known for his work reusing damaged posters that he collected and which have been displayed in museums around the world.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of the artist Jacques Villeglé, at the age of 96,” the Center Pompidou in Paris said in a statement on Tuesday.

He was a great artist, an observer and a collector of posters. His unique work had a huge impact on the second half of the 20th century’, modern art museum wrote.

Born Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé on March 27, 1926 in Quimper in western France, Villeglé studied at the School of Fine Arts in Rennes, then later in Nantes.

Member of the New Realism group (New Realists) from 1960 with Arman and Yves Klein among others, in the 1970s he was at the origin of a “social-political” graphic art movement, writing anonymously on the walls of metros and experimenting with print.

“Holy Family” poster (1998) by French artist Jacques Villeglé, who died on June 6, 2022. Adagp, Paris 2008

With his friend the photographer and artist Raymond Hains, who died in 2005, Villeglé “scratches” what was to become his first “art poster” in 1949, which he will continue until 2003.

Essentially, he picked out sections of torn posters, often revealing layers of older posters underneath, advertising or politics and transferred them to panels, cropping the content to highlight certain colors and shapes. .

“In the 1960s, we were told that we had to bring the museums to the street. But I said that we had to bring the street to the museums which are a bit like cemeteries,” he said. said one day.

“In America, I was considered a precursor of pop art, like Jasper Johns. I’m sure it’s thanks to the ‘Carrefour Sèvres Montparnasse’ poster.

“Posters have always interested me,” he said during his major retrospective at the Pompidou in Paris in 2008.

“I understood that with them we would see the evolution of the world, the words that change, the new colors”.

The end of the 1980s was a “golden age” admits Villeglé where there were “a lot of posters pasted everywhere”.

The evening of the April 1988 presidential election was particularly memorable. “I brought a truck, five guys with me and we went to get posters. Within an hour I had all my next exhibition,” he says.

Exhibition in Saint Malo

“He was admired by all the major museums and his work constitutes a large part of our collective imagination. It changed our view of the urban landscape, inviting us to reclaim the city, to contemplate it, question it and challenge it. “, wrote the mayor of Rennes, Nathalie Appéré.

The town of Saint-Malo in Brittany, where Villeglé once worked, has been working for a few months with the artist and his daughters to prepare an exhibition which will open this summer, Appéré said.

“On July 9, it is with great emotion that we will unveil this work by this formidable creator and founder of street art,” said the mayor of Saint-Malo Gilles Lurton.

“Quai des Célestins” (1964) by French artist Jacques Villeglé, who died on June 6, 2022 at the age of 96.
“Quai des Célestins” (1964) by French artist Jacques Villeglé, who died on June 6, 2022 at the age of 96. Adagp, Paris 2008

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