Join us for a book signing celebrating the publication of JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS  by Barnaby Conrad III.


Thursday, May 26, 5:30-7:30pm


Proof of vaccine with booster + masks required for entry.


Modernism Inc. of San Francisco and of Oakland are pleased to announce the publication of JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS  by Barnaby Conrad III.


JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS  is a large format (11.5 x 9.5 inches) monograph of 260 pages, with over 200 color images of Villeglé’s art, as well as 170 vintage photographs of the artist, his intellectual circle, post-World War II political figures, and the streets of Paris. It is the first English-language biography of Jacques Villeglé who, at age 96, is considered France’s greatest living artist.


Born in 1926 to an aristocratic family from Brittany, Jacques Villeglé studied architecture before moving to Paris in 1947. There he was struck by the brightly-colored advertising and political posters plastered on walls, billboards and the fences surrounding construction sites. Torn by anonymous passersby, the ravaged posters reminded Villeglé of abstract paintings speckled with Lettrist poetry. So he became a poster thief. 


In 1949, Villeglé and his colleague Raymond Hains began ripping down already vandalized posters and mounting the tattered paper on canvas. Some critics thought Villeglé was channeling Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters, but in a 1958 essay he pointedly rejected origins in Dada, labeling his art une réalité collective.  Two other major artists, François Dufrêne and Mimmo Rotella, also began stealing posters. 


Inspired by Villeglé’s ideas, the ambitious art critic Pierre Restany and artist Yves Klein created a theoretical movement, Le Nouveau Réalisme, and enlisted Villeglé, Raymond Hains, Arman, Daniel Spoerri, Francoise Dufrêne, Martial Raysse, Jean Tinguely, Daniel Spoerri, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Mimmo Rotella, Gérard Deschamps, César, Christo and Jean-Claude, among others. All of these artists incorporated real objects or industrial elements in their art works. 


When André Malraux saw the art made by Villeglé and his colleagues in 1959, he wrote to Picasso, “It is the art of the future showing its teeth.”  Les Nouveaux Réalistes became a sort of Parisian counterpart to the nascent Pop Art school blooming in New York and London. 


As the putative father of Street Art, Villeglé once said, "I didn't need an atelier, the street was my atelier." Over six decades he took more than 4,000 poster works, each titled with the street name of its origin. Fittingly,  JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS  features photographs of Paris’s ancient streets taken by Charles Marville, Eugène Atget, André Zucca, Ed van der Elsken, Marc Riboud, André Morain, Harry Shunk, and François Poivret, among others.  


Today, every major museum in Europe owns a work by Villeglé, from the Tate Gallery in London to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne. In 2008, the Centre Georges Pompidou honored Villeglé with a retrospective, while one of his pictures hangs in the permanent collection of MOMA NYC. 

 JACQUES VILLEGLÉ AND THE STREETS OF PARIS  is the first monograph on this artist in English.  The book design is by Christine Taylor of Wilsted & Taylor, an award-winning team based in Oakland, CA.


Barnaby Conrad III is the author of ten books, including  Absinthe: History in a Bottle (1988), Ghost Hunting in Montana (1994), The Martini (1995), Les Chiens de Paris (1995), Les Chats de Paris (1996) , and Pan Am: An Aviation Legend (1999). He has also written monographs on American artists Richard Diebenkorn, John Register, and Mark Stock. A 1975 graduate of Yale, he served as senior editor of Art World in New York; senior editor of Horizon; and Editor-at-Large for Forbes Life. From 1982-87 he was a special correspondent in Paris for the San Francisco Chronicle. Today he lives between San Francisco and his farm in Virginia.