The word décollage comes from the French verb décoller, which means remove, unstick, take off. Starting with this concept it is possible to understand better what art medium we are talking about. Décollage is the opposite of collage, this is, instead of adding material to the image, a part of it is removed either by cutting, tearing or erasing with any other method part of the original image.
In the 50s two French artists, Raymond Hains and Jacque Villegle started creating his early compositions ripping off worn away posters on the streets of Paris. At the same time and without knowing about the existence of the first two, a young Mimmo Rotella was also experimenting with this new technique. The difference between Rotella and Hains and Villeglé was that the Italian tore the posters from the streets, pasted them on canvas in his studio and from there began to create, while the French maintained their creations in public spaces. A fourth artist would join these three, François Dufrêne, and together they called themselves Les Affichistes (The poster artists).
Although initially Les Affichistes's works were abstract, they soon began to include everyday images and objects of consumption in them, leaving behind the lyrical abstraction. Later Rotella would include in his creations movie stars, getting closer to the contemporary American Pop Art of Andy Warhol.
Alongside Rotella, Hains, and Dufrêne Villeglé, other artists like Arman, Yves Klein or Jaques Tinguely also felt that predilection to regain the form and get closer to reality. Watching them all, was the art critic Pierre Restany whom, along with the painter Yves Klein, decided to draw up a manifesto to establish the basis of this new trend which would be called Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism). This manifesto would be signed by Yves Klein, Arman, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques de la Villeglé on October 27, 1960. Other artists would join them later, like Mimmo Rotella, who never signed this manifesto, but would be part of this group since 1961 (he would be the only non-French artist to be part of it) with César Baldaccini, Gérard Dechamps and Christo.
The new realists tried to represent the reality of their time using ordinary objects as plastic material. They would use street posters, metal parts and other diverse objects ranging from woman lingerie to automobiles. By integrating all of these used goods, assembling them and giving them colour and form, these artists’ intention was to make the consumer citizen an art creator.
It is important to note that while this group was being formed in France, there also were other English and American artists who wanted to recover the form lost and deal with the everyday, but in this case they would it through figurative painting. Some of those were Alex Katz, Francis Bacon or Lucian Freud.
The movement was disbanded in 1970 due to the uneven evolution that took each of the artists who conformed it. For Rotella, the use of film posters, mainly American, showing the stars of the time such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Paul Newman, Grace Kelly or Cary Grant brought him closer to Pop Art and, in fact, he is considered as the best example of this style in Italy.
It is worth to highlight the graphic work of Mimmo Rotella; thorough limited edition multiple décollages hand signed and numbered by the artist. You can see detailed photos of some of these works we have in stock by visiting our prints by Mimmo Rotella gallery.