Jacques Villeglé and the Streets of Paris at Modernism Gallery

Modernism will present its eighth in-depth survey of décollage works by Jacques VILLEGLÉ, one of France’s most influential contemporary artists.

The Exhibition runs through July 1.

This exhibition also marks the release of a major new monograph: “Jacques Villeglé and the Streets of Paris” by Barnaby Conrad III, the first comprehensive book on Jacques Villeglé in English.

For over seventy years, Jacques VILLEGLÉ’s work has played an important role in redefining what constitutes a work of art. He is an artist who was instrumental in bringing the streetscape into the space of the exhibition.

Jacques Villeglé spent most of his life wandering the streets of Paris, pulling torn advertising posters off the ancient walls and pronouncing them Art. “In seizing a poster, I seize history,” he says. “What I gather is the reflection of an era.”

Born in Brittany in 1926, Villeglé was a seventeen-year-old architectural apprentice in Nantes during the bleak days of the German Occupation. After the Liberation in 1944, he moved to the City of Light, where he was drawn to filmmaking, avant-garde Lettrist poetry, and painting. The prewar art movements of Cubism and Surrealism had melted into abstraction, but Villeglé’s earnest attempts at Art Informel soon struck him as redundant, and he destroyed his canvases.

Without a job and at loose ends intellectually, he became a flâneur, a curious intellectual roaming through war-scarred Paris. “As I walked through the streets, I was struck by the color and typography of the posters. In those days, the cinema and concert posters rarely had images—just words—and they had been torn and shredded to where they became something else, with a post-cubist look to them. I began to see them as paintings made by anonymous hands.”