For the first time in New York, an exhibition celebrates The Narrative Figuration.

The Narrative Figuration conquering America the movement born in France in reaction to pop art and abstraction. Committed paintings that have lost none of their strength.

Eduardo Arroyo Les Derniers Jours de Pompéi Madrid(The Last Days of Pompeii Madrid)
Eduardo Arroyo
1969, oil on canvas, 142 x 200 cm.
Around 140 000 €.


"Narrative Figuration 60s - 70s
until May 16
1969, huile sur toile, 142 x 200 cm.
Richard Taittinger Gallery 154 Ludlow Street
New York
+1 212 634 7154

New York-based French gallerist Richard Taittinger is presenting a landmark exhibition of Figuration Narrative artists through May 16, in collaboration with Yoyo Maeght, a contemporary print editor, former gallerist and former administrator of the Maeght Foundation. "This generation is not represented in the United States," she explains. U.S. institutions have missed out, except for Télémaque, of Haitian origin, who entered MoMA in 2019."

Bernard Rancillac
Fin tragique d’un apôtre de l’Apartheid (Tragic end of an apostle of Apartheid)
1966, acrylic on canvas, 92 x 73 cm.
> 100 000

The exhibition highlights the work of nine major artists of the 1960s-1970s movement, which is characterized by a return to figuration in reaction to abstract art and American pop art. "Narrative Figuration adopts much of the "liberating" formal appearance of pop to better turn it inside out. Faced with this conquering painting, rich of its Eden of supermarket and comic strip, [it] awakens the old romantic demons of the narrative, of the political and autobiographical commitment, even mythological", wrote Jean-Louis Pradel in the catalog of his exhibition at the Villa Tamaris, "La Figuration narrative", in 2000 in La Seyne-sur-Mer (83).

Cybèle Varela
Maison du Brésil (House of Brazil)
1973, industrial painting on wood, 62 x 90 cm.
> 71 500 €

An international galaxy but mostly individual careers.

For the art historian Jean-Luc Chalumeau, "the artists of the Figuration narrative have never constituted a real group. The critic Pierre Gaudibert observed in 1992 that it was a simple arbitrary grouping of those who wanted to give back to painting a politically active function. As a result, these artists have had essentially individual careers and, over the years, opportunities to see them together have become rare. The exhibition at the Richard Taittinger Gallery is thus exceptional." In addition to Erró, Gérard Fromanger and Jacques Monory, the Italian Valerio Adami (b. 1935) is featured, who captures scenes of everyday life in works attached to classical drawing.

Valerio Adami
Figura in casa
1970-1971, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 65 cm.
> 50 500 €

Eduardo Arroyo (1937-2018) from Madrid was first an anti-Franco journalist who took refuge in France in 1958 and caused a scandal with his very political paintings. Bernard Rancillac (born in 1931) paints his vision of international political, social or humanitarian news from photos chosen from newspapers or purchased from press agencies.

There is an American in the group: Peter Saul (born in 1934), who deals with social violence, drugs or torture, in a palette of raw colors. Hervé Télémaque (born in 1937) is one of the pioneers of the movement and likes to associate objects in mysterious rebus. Less known, the Brazilian Cybèle Varela (born in 1943) is the only woman of the group. Other important painters of the Figuration narrative, like Peter Klasen, could be the subject of a second exhibition...

Our favorite insurgents

Focus on three major painters of the Figuration narrative, where scenes of everyday life, film sequences, tracts or comics feed works under high social and political tension.

Gérard Fromanger (born 1939)
The colorist

rue d’Orchampt
1975, oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm.

The artist, an active activist of the Beaux-Arts popular workshop during May 68, used in the 1970s photos of passers-by or urban scenes that he projected onto his canvas.
As a "painter of the world's anger", he generally kept only the silhouette of the characters, which he reworked in flat areas of color - often a flamboyant red, his favorite hue, as in his famous Boulevard des Italiens series. He also executed "film-tracts" with Jean-Luc Godard and portraits of his friends (Jacques Prévert, Michel Foucault...). Since 1978, Fromanger has painted directly on canvas, without projection of images. His first retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, "Tout est allumé", dates from 1980, the last from 2016.

Erró (born in 1932)
The accumulator

La Bombe
300 x 450 cm

Originally from Iceland, Erró moved to Paris in 1958 and became one of the leaders of the Figuration narrative. The artist accumulates images from his travels around the world: photos, advertisements, comics, movie posters, leaflets...
He assembles these documents into small collages that are like models for his large painted compositions. His saturated canvases are constructed according to perspectives and implausible scales. Critical of consumer society and systems of oppression, they trigger real visual shocks, between humor and violence.
Erró is represented by the galleries Louis Carré & Cie (Paris) and Perrotin (Paris-New York-Hong Kong-Soul-Tokyo-Shanghai).

Starting from a few thousand euros for a collage to more than €30,000 for a large painting

Jacques Monory (1924-2018)
The cinephile

Technicolor no 23
1977, oil on canvas,
150 x 150 cm.

Jacques Monory is a pioneer of the movement. From the beginning
1960s, he works from photographic images taken by himself or selected from film magazines. Fascinated by the 7th art, he painted large canvases, often cut into several parts, like film sequences. The monochrome background, usually blue, but also yellow, pink or black, reinforces the dreamlike atmosphere.

The artist often represents himself in his works, hero or hitman, victim or simple witness. Jacques Monory uses shifted framing, the juxtaposition of images or the insertion of mirrors riddled with bullet holes, to better trap the viewer. From 1977, he abandons monochrome for a blue-yellow-pink trichromatic.
Jacques Monory is exhibited by the Richard Taittinger Gallery (New York).

From 20 000 to 150 000 € depending of the format.