Martial Raysse – The most expensive living French artist

Born in 1936 in the South East of France, Martial Raysse founded the Nouveaux Réalistes artistic movement in France. His art greatly evolved from the use of neon and plastic of his early pieces to huge painted canvasses inspired by a more classic style. His return to painting was not understood at the time and he went through a long period of obscurity and financial difficulties. He seems to be back in favour now. At a 2011 Christie’s auction in London, a Raysse painting, “Last Year in Capri (Exotic Title),” sold for $6.58 million, the most expensive price paid at auction for a work by living French artist. A wonderful comeback for an artist who humbly says that he’s not trying to be popular but to improve his art and describes himself as a poet.


Key Vocabulary:

  • la peinture est un language -> painting is a language
  • la découverte de ces nouveaux matériaux -> the discovery of these new materials
  • mon travail porte témoignage -> my work bears witness
  • espérances -> hopes
  • je me suis aperçu -> I reaslised
  • apprendre son métier -> to learn one’s job
  • faire confiance à la vie -> to trust life
  • rude -> rough
  • j’étais obligé de rajouter -> I had to add
  • donner du volume par les ombres et les lumières -> to create volumes by using shades and lights
  • un minimum de moyens pour un maximum de résultats -> the least means for the most results
  • pour séparer les pièces -> to separate rooms
  • rien de vivant -> nothing alive
  • nature morte -> still life
  • être reconnu -> receive recognition
  • l’art est lié aux processus commerciaux -> art is linked to commercial processes
  • ce n’est pas les meilleurs qui gagnent -> it’s not the best who win

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