Raymond Hains was born on 9 November 1926, in the Breton town of Saint-Brieuc, France. When he was eighteen, he enrolled at the École régionale des beaux-arts in Rennes to study sculpture, though he was far more interested in photography and soon left for Paris in 1945. He began an apprenticeship with Emmanuel Sougez, a photographer for the magazine France Illustration, and created short films, collages and photographic work adapted from Dada and Surrealist techniques. Hains’ first solo exhibition, Hypnagogical Photographs, was held at the Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, in 1948.
As early as 1949, Hains associated with Jacques de la Villeglé. The two would produce work that challenged the subjectivity of American action painting and the French Art Informel movement, including collaborative décollages – ‘paintings’ made from posters and advertisements torn from round the city. These were eventually exhibited in 1957. In 1960, Hains and Villeglé participated in the first Nouveau Réaliste exhibition organised by Pierre Restany at the Galleria Apollinaire, Milan. In 1962, they would feature in another display of New Realism at the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, with Jim Dine, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. In 1964, Hains presented Biennale déchirée (‘Torn biennial’) at the XXXII Venice Biennale.
Hains continued to make works in the neo-Dada spirit throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Language and verbal gags remained key components of his work, and in 1997 he began working on his series of Macintoshages, which juxtaposed computer-based texts and images in automatic arrangements. Hains would also exhibit at Documenta, Kassel, in 1997. Hains died on 28 October 2005, in Paris.
Hains’ work can be found in the following selected international collections: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK), Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC), Marseille.
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