The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Mi-août', by the French artist Martial Raysse, reveals part of a person: the upper legs, the stomach, part of the right arm and a few fingers of the left hand. The fingers are placed on a newspaper or magazine, and next to it Raysse painted a bathroom slipper which has a foam plastic flower mounted on it. The attributes and the position of the figure reveal that it is a woman in a bathing costume who is lying down, reading. Raysse used an offset print of this as the basis for his work and painted bright unnatural colours over it. The woman’s legs are bright red and her arm is bright yellow. The background consists of different shades of blue and has been painted with short brushstrokes. The subject, the title 'Mi-août' (mid-August) and the bright colours combined with the cool blue, evoke an atmosphere of a sunny seaside holiday.
Martial Raysse is a member of the group of artists known as “les nouveaux réalistes”, which was founded in Paris in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany. These artists used contemporary products from everyday life such as consumer articles and advertising materials as the starting point for their work. In this respect there are similarities with British and American Pop Art. In Pop Art, modern products are depicted, sometimes with the addition of actual objects. In nouveau réalisme, the objects themselves are used to create images. These objects are then processed in different ways by being stacked, pressed or wrapped up so thattheir identity is largely lost. Although Raysse represented himself as a nouveaux réaliste, his work reveals more similarities with Pop Art.
He presented the viewer with a world full of fine appearances. He created paintings, assemblages, and installations for which he used ingredients from his surroundings: the French Côte d'Azur. Posters of beautiful women advertising suncreams or luxury holidays, beach accessories and cheap jewellery were used to create images which radiated artificiality. In themselves they are already products to make the world look more beautiful than it is, but Raysse added another dimension. He did not paint or construct a sunny scene as in the advertisement, but presented an illusion of this. He undermined the realistic content of his images by using unnatural clashing colours and sharply defined forms, which seemed had a flat effect rather than the character of illusion. The added accessories like the bathroom slippers, false eyelashes or neon tubes emphasise the lack of reality of the scene.