Movement New Realism

In 1960, French critic, Pierre Restany, created the “Nouveaux Réalistes" group at Yves Klein's home in Paris. Artists such as Jean Tinguely, Arman and Martial Raysse joined the group, sharing a common declaration of New Realism being a “new perceptual approach to reality." With such a broad definition, New Realism allowed artists like Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo, to share this collective creative identity despite joining the movement at different times. The New Realists abandoned the post-war abstract painting of the 50s in favour of the “new" world, exploring a society synonymous with progress, technology and change. They were particularly inspired by the Dada movement, Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp's Readymades and the whimsical Surrealists. 

Yves Klein 

Originally from Nice, Yves Klein can be considered as a pioneer of contemporary art. A painter, craftsman, sculptor, photographer, video artist and performer, his techniques and unique outlook made him a legend in the art world. He revolutionised contemporary art with his Anthropometries; a process where he used women's naked bodies as  "living paint brushes." Today, his hypnotic IKB works can be seen in museums worldwide.


Arman's "colères" (anger) are works which are produced by destroying objects, which are then displayed in boxes. However, despite this niche approach to art, it is Arman's "accumulations" that he is known for. These works consist of a large number of identical objects which have been melted, and then displayed behind a Plexiglas screen or in a polyester casting. His work, Home Sweet Home, depicts an accumulation of gas masks which are powerfully reminiscent of the Holocaust. Arman's work was exhibited in New York in 1961 at the time of the Eichmann trial.

Niki de Saint Phalle 

A key figure in not only contemporary art, but specifically contemporary female art, Niki de Saint Phalle marked the 20th century with her  powerful works and vibrant personality. Her “tir" (shots) works, ( which consisted of shooting her canvas with paint) and her eerie Tarot Gardens in Tuscany made de Saint Phalle world-famous. Saint Phalle belonged to elite artistic circles, rubbing shoulders with Christo, Yves Klein and Miro. She was also the wife of fellow painter and sculptor, Jean Tinguely, with whom she created the famous Stravinsky Fountain next to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Jean Tingueley

Swiss sculptor, painter and draughtsman, whose most famous works include his metamechanics, which were sculptural machines. With his wife, Niki de Saint Phalle, he created monumental sculptures, continually arousing the interest of the media throughout their joint career.


Christo and Jeanne-Claude, commonly known as 'Christo', was an artistic duo made up of husband and wife, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. 'Christo' was crucially the only name to appear on the artists' works; a deliberate decision by both Jeanne-Claude and Christo. They were conscious of the judgement faced by female artists, only revealing Jeanne-Claude's identity in 1994. 

The New Realists revelled in new creative processes, and their influence can still be felt today. Discover the contemporary artists inspired by Yves Klein, Arman and Niki de Saint Phalle on Artsper now!

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