CLAUDE GILLI French, 1938-2015


A common rejection of traditional art and an anti-conformist attitude led Claude Gilli to establish the École de Nice, along with friends and fellow artists such as Arman, Ben, César, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse and Bernar Venet. Travelling between Nice and Paris, Gilli and his friends were entranced by the new wave of American culture; jazz, movies and artists such as Mark Rothko. Gilli naturally collaborated with the Nouveau Réalisme movement and became one of the most active exponents. 


From 1961 Gilli worked on his renowned Ex-voto and Souvenir series. Found objects: family mementos, salvaged photographic memories and kitsch religious items are gathered together with popular images of ‘Pin-Ups’ in boxed votive offerings. Fragments of memory, desire and identity are richly assembled to resemble religious shrines to the everyday, identity and consumer society.


After experimenting with new materials such as Plexiglas and participating in happenings including painting snails and letting them loose over a canvas, Gilli found his long term medium of 3D wood cut-outs painted in the novel material of car lacquer. Vibrant sculptural paintings depicting women, consumer objects and landscapes are both provocative and poetic. 


Claude Gilli has had major retrospectives at MAMAC, Nice, Musée des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux and Villa Tamaris, P.A.C.A. and his work has been exhibited throughout the world.