Movement Narrative Figuration

Narrative Figuration first appeared in the 1960s, as a response to abstraction. Although not as well-known as Pop art, Narrative Figuration created a community of artists across Europe who engaged with the colourful, entertaining and heavily political movement. Despite it being commonly associated with Pop art, American Pop art was considered too hegemonic and formal in comparison to Narrative Figuration, which sought to display the political struggles of the time. 

Narrative Figuration was a concept invented by art critic, Gérald Gassiot-Talabot in 1964. Along with artists Bernard Rancillac and Hervé Télémaque, Gassiot-Talabot organised the exhibition “Mythologies quotidiennes." Artists such as Eduardo Arroyo, René Bertholo, Gianni Bertini, Öyvind Fahlström, Peter Klasen, Jacques Monory, Antonio Recalcati and Jan Voss took part in the exhibition. They sought to communicate socio-political changes via their works, and did so through the use of comic strips, films, photography and advertising campaigns. Most artists of the Narrative Figuration movement were inspired by Herbert Marcuse's Marxist theories of May 68; believing the rebellious potential of artists' works should be reflected in their aesthetic, as opposed to discourse. Artists reproduced shocking images found in the media, using visual language to convey the political urgency of the time. May 1968 was a tumultuous period of civil unrest, where strikes and demonstrations nearly stopped France's economy all together. 

Hervé Télémaque: born on November 5, 1937, Télémaque is a French painter of Haitian origin, and is a central influence to Narrative Figuration. 

Bernard Rancillac is a French artist, painter and sculptor born in 1931 in Paris. He continues to live and work in the Paris region. Along with Gassiot-Talabot, Hervé Télémaque and Foldes, he co-organised the exhibition "Mythologies quotidiennes."

Jacques Monory: one of the main figures of the Narrative Figuration movement. Monoroy was deeply concerned by the violence depicted everyday, and his heartache can be felt in his heavily emotive paintings. Monory develops his works through photography and cinematography appropriated from contemporary society. His works are recognisable through their use of monochromy, type of composition and themes. 

Peter Klasen: in 1964, he participated in the exhibition "Mythologies quotidiennes", which brought together 34 Narrative Figuration artists in the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. 

Although Narrative Figuration was somewhat forgotten after the 1980s, it can still be considered one of the most important contemporary art movements in France. Discover artists like, Valerio Adami, Antonio Segui and Erró on Artsper, who continue to incorporate the values of this inspiring movement in their works. 

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