Pierre Restany  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pierre Restany (24 June 1930 – 29 May 2003), was an internationally known French art critic and cultural philosopher.

Restany was born in Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, Pyrénées-Orientales, and spent his childhood in Casablanca. On returning to France in 1949 he attended the Lycée Henri-IV before studying at universities in France, Italy and Ireland. From their first meeting in 1955, Restany maintained a strong tie with Yves Klein (to whom is attributed Klein-blue).

Conceptions of New Realism / Nouveau Realisme

In 1960 Pierre Restany created the idea and coined the term "Nouveau Réalisme" with Yves Klein during a group show in the Apollinaire gallery in Milan. It was an idea that united a group of French and Italian artists. Nouveau Realisme was the European answer to the American Neo-Dada of Fluxus and Pop Art. The group included Martial Raysse, Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Jacques Villeglé - and was later joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo.

Restany defined this group of artists as sharing "new perceptual approaches to reality". The first exhibition of the "Nouveaux réalistes" took place in November 1960 at the Paris Festival d'avant-garde. Their work was an attempt at reassessing the concept of art and the artist in the context of 20th-century consumer society by reasserting humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion.

From 1963 onwards, Restany edited the art and architectural magazine Domus and divided his time between Montparnasse, Paris and Milan, Italy. In the early 1970s he took interest in the work of the Sociological art collective. In 1982 he co-founded Domus Academy, the first postgraduate design school. From the early 1990s up to his death, Restany took a keen and growing interest in artists working in the areas of computer art, new media art, digital art and the world wide web. In 1992, he was director of the group show Art & Tabac, in Rome, Vienna and Amsterdam.

He also developed his thought on nature and chaos with artist Carlos Ginzburg, a collaboration that resulted in Political Ecology, an exhibition Restany curated in New York, in 2001.

Pierre Restany died in Paris in 2003 and is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery.


  • Pierre Restany, Manifeste des Nouveaux Réalistes, Editions Dilecta, Paris, 2007.
  • Pierre Restany "Voyages de Ginzburg", Editions Julien Blaine, Paris, France, 1980

See also

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