History, Poetry, Mythologies

With a critical eye, in the 1960s Martial Raysse appropriated the iconography of traditional art, tranforming his works into pastiches influenced by the Pop Art imagination. In the series Made in Japan (1964) Ingres, Tintoretto, Cranach and Botticelli are passed through the filter of ‘martialcolor’, their work enlarged and radically revisited. Raysse thus measures himself against the art history of the past and proposes a complex system of cultural references: distant echoes of Virgil and of Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Polphili, traces of esoteric parables and stories, resonances of heroic epics are combined with autobiographical references. David’s Death of Marat (1793), Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (1819) or Manet’s Execution of Maximilian (1867) insert themselves into an ensemble of historical and pictorial allusions through which Raysse confronts the history of the Old Masters and their masterpieces. From Giotto renversé par un porc (1995) to Le Soir Antoine! (1996) to the monumental Ici Plage, comme ici-bas (2012), the artist focuses on the hierarchy of pictorial genres, of the group portrait and historical painting.