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French, 20th century, male.

Born 30 June 1936, in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Painter, draughtsman, poet, sculptor, assemblage artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Visual Poetry.

Surrealist group.

At the age of 15, Jean-Jacques Lebel, whose father was an art specialist, was exchanging letters with André Breton and mixing with the Surrealists (he was later excluded, with Alain Jouffroy, in ...

Article

(b Brussels, Nov 27, 1903; d Brussels, May 13, 1971).

Belgian writer, exhibition organizer, collagist and composer. As a young composer he was influenced by Erik Satie. He collaborated on Dadaist-inspired journals and published, with René Magritte, Œsophage (1925), the only issue of which, containing the poems of Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, remained faithful to the Dada spirit. In 1926 Marie, a ‘journal bi-mensuel pour la belle jeunesse’, published under his direction, pursued the same vein; it only had two issues. Mesens was involved in the establishment of a Surrealist movement (see Surrealism), which was strongly permeated with Dadaism in Belgium. In 1927 he became Director of the Galerie L’Epoque and in 1931 of the Galerie Mesens, both in Brussels. Miró, Magritte and Max Ernst all exhibited with him. He founded the Editions Nicolas Flamel, which published the Surrealists’ collective homage to a parricide, Violette Nozières (Brussels, 1933), André Breton’s lecture ‘Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme’, held on the occasion of the first international Surrealist exhibition organized in Brussels by Mesens under the auspices of ...

Article

Hans-Peter Wittwer

(b Lucerne, Aug 11, 1930; d Berlin, Nov 9, 1985).

Swiss painter, draughtsman and stage designer. He met Serge Stauffer (b 1930) in 1946, with whom he shared an admiration for Dada and Surrealism, and in particular for Hans Arp and Marcel Duchamp. In 1947 they started to exchange letters (some of which survive; see 1985 exh. cat.). Thomkins studied under Max von Moos (b 1903) at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Lucerne (1947–9), although he did not formally enrol at the college. He then attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris (1950–51). In 1952 he settled in Rheydt, near Lucerne, where he created the autobiographical figure Schwebsel, analogous to Max Ernst’s Lop-Lop bird.

In 1954 Thomkins moved to Essen. He produced the first Vexierklischees (painted photographs) in 1955 (e.g. Ornamental Asparagus is Re-potted Here, 1956; The Hague, Gemeentemus.) and began to experiment with Lackskins, produced by letting oil paint drip on to a water surface and using paper to pick up the coloured paint as it spread and mixed with the water. In these works he was experimenting with the interplay between manipulation and chance, which he had observed in the work of the Surrealists. In ...