The 60’s are famous for quite a lot of things, one of those is the new realism art movement (or nouveau realisme). It was actually founded in 1960 by artist Yves Klein. A European movement of contemporary art the term was coined by the art critic Pierre Restany.
Nouveau Realisme has been typically regarded as a European form of American Pop Art… there’s just one problem with that, the members of the movement’s activities predated that movement. So, if anything influenced the other it was New Realism that gave birth to the Pop Art movement in America.
In a time when fine art painting was dying, New Realism was concerned with how to respond. The role of art was changing in a new consumer driven society, so they took a new approach. They started to focus on new types of art, like de-collages, poster art, and assemblage. There was no particular type of art set in New Realism, it was a hybrid. The group of artists saw themselves as harnessing junk art and performance art to create postmodernist art that was a true reflection of the transformation undergoing popular culture in France. The focus was more on the real, so they worked on using recycled items which would reflect the reality of the time.
Klein was the driving force behind the group and he is famous for a couple of things. First for using nude models as paintbrushes and second for inventing the colour International Klein Blue. One of his pieces sold for $15 million in 2014, so we can see that his contribution to the world of art is still being appreciated.
Other artists of the movement included Arman, Francois Dufrene, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Cesar Baldaccini, Gerard Deschamps, Mimmo Rotella and Jacques de la Villegle. Arman was famous for filling a gallery with trash, from top to bottom. Cesar crushed vehicles into blocks of junk metal. Raysse combined commercial pop graphics with iron subjects taken from classical painting.
Dufrene, de la Villegle and Rotella would layer posters on top of each other and then tear off varying layers to create fragmented images and texts.
Perhaps the second most important artist of the movement was Jean Tinguely. Most famously he assembled a hunk of junk that was to self-destruct, the programming failed and instead it started a fire. He also assembled “robots” of sorts using radios, lights and motors- they would jerk pointlessly, though some were used to paint pictures. The movement lasted only a decade, dissolving in 1970, but even today it has its influences with top contemporary artists.