The French artist Raymond Hains, born 1926 in Saint-Brieuc (Britanny), is an important contemporary artist. Apart from his billboard-tearings in the sixties and his participation in "Nouveau Réalisme", his work is hardly known in the German-speaking countries. Hains' work comprises, among other things, abstract photographic works (starting in 1946), which were later called "Hypnagogoscopes", and abstract films counting as pioneering achievements in independent experimental film.

As with very few others, Raymond Hains' artistic oeuvre is a "work in progress" with an almost infinite series of plays on words and image associations. The conceptual exhibition installations therefore appear as distillates. A closer look reveals interconnections among countless layers.

"Since the early sixties, my point of departure for each exhibition is the exhibition site and name. These lead to manifold references, expounding the world" (R.H.).

For Portikus, Raymond Hains has developed an installation starting with Frankfurt and the architecture of Portikus and connecting it with Hains' own artistic career since 1944, with the history of art, and with philosophy. The starting point is a porticus motif that Hains took from a calligraphy by Apollinaire from February 18, 1915 (Letter to Lou) and uses as motif of the exhibition. The name Apollinaire leads him back to his first exhibition in the Milanese Gallery Apollinaire in May of 1960, triggering the "Nouveau Réalisme" movement. In the exhibition at Portikus, Hains shows an enlarged version of the title page of the catalogue he designed at the time: optically distorted names of the participating artists Arman, Dufrêne, Hains, Klein (Yves le monochrome), Tinguely, and Villeglé. The astounding visual parallels between the title page of the catalogue for Gallery Apollinaire (1960) and the calligraphy by Apollinaire (1915) leads Hains to further references - Apollinaire's and Antonin Artaud's roles in post-war Paris (Artaud's famous lecture at "Theatre du Vieux Colombier" in 1947, which Hains attended; Apollinaire's decisive lecture on modern art and poetry held in the same theatre in 1916); but also the trip to Rome to which Hains was inspired by the exhibition at Gallery Apollinaire in 1960. This leads to references to Goethe and his journey to Italy in 1780, to Goethe's encounter with Jacques Louis David's picture "The Oath of the Horatians", and from there to the French philosopher of the Enlightenment Marquis de Bièvre, to the Louvre paintings of the French painter Hubert Robert and to the contemporary phenomenon of the "Grand Louvre"...

Along with a large-scale outdoor installation on "Grand Louvre" outside Portikus - showing a work on Kant, the Kanter Brewery, and Kant's Königsberg publisher Jacob Kanter, several hundred slides from Hains' archive and important works such as billboard-tearings, nearly unknown abstract films, and a reproduction of a part of Hains' studio - a "grand exhibition on a small scale" is created on the life work of Raymond Hains encompassing half a century.

The exhibition is accompanied by the comprehensive publication "Raymond Hains, Gast auf Durchreise", edited by Robert Fleck. The French version of this book "Le 3 Cartier - du Grand Louvre aux 3 Cartier" was edited by Hervé Chandès, Paris, 1994. Raymond Hains' exhibition at Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (1994/95) was an important predecessor for the exhibition at Portikus.

Photos: Katrin Schilling