Locus Solus

Impressions of Raymond Roussel

October 26, 2011 - 27 February 2012 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 1

The exhibition Locus Solus. Impressions de Raymond Roussel is dedicated to the body of work by the French novelist and poet and its influence on modern and contemporary art. Roussel (1877-1933) was the author of a literary opus made up of rich worlds, filled with spectacle, masks and phantasmagoria and built around the mechanisms and double entendres found in language. In its consideration of Roussel, Locus Solus is also taking a furtive glance at the history of 20th century art.

Locus Solus is the first exhibition to be held in Spain on the figure and influence of Raymond Roussel (Paris, 1877 - Palermo, 1933), the author of poetic, novelistic and theatrical works without precedent in the history of literature. Roussel is known for both the singularity and exuberance of his narrative and visual universe and also for the complex methodology he developed and then perfected over time. This methodology was based on the exploration of the inventive potential of homonymy and word play, all from the conviction that an artistic/literary work does not need to contain anything real, that it can be exclusively a combination of imaginary objects. In a text published posthumously, How I wrote certain of my books, Roussel explains the process he used. The author, who always kept his distance from the avant-garde and from the literary movements of his times (because, in the words of André Breton, he was "fully determined to follow no inclination other than that of his spirit") reveals in the aforementioned text that he started out by inventing two phrases that were phonetically almost identical but had very different meanings, to later try to write a story that could start with one of them and end with the other.

Using variations of this process he created his two most emblematic works, Locus Solus and Impressions of Africa, which give this exhibition its name. The show analyses the influence that Raymond Roussel has had on modern and contemporary art, by looking at a broad array of works in a variety of formats (paintings, photos, sculptures, ready-mades, installations, videos...) by about thirty different artists. His enormous influence was recognised early on by surrealists and other creators linked to the historical avant-garde – including Marcel Duchamp, who went so far as to describe him as "he who points the way" – and since then it has done nothing but grow, with an authentic myth being generated around this artist who, nonetheless, remains quite unknown.

The exhibition shows how Raymond Roussel's aesthetic-literary undertakings, so complex and ambitious and with their strange blend of conceptual rigor and linguistic delirium, have been a primary source of inspiration to numerous visual artists (Salvador Dalí, Francis Picabia, Allen Ruppersberg, Rodney Graham…) and also to authors from other fields and disciplines, ranging from philosophy (Michel Foucault) to literature (John Ashbery, Michel Butor, Julio Cortázar...), including music and even ethnographic research. The work of Roussel can thus be used as a point of departure for an oblique and transversal reading of 20th century art.

In conjunction with Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves

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Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Oporto
Manuel J. Borja-Villel, João Fernandes, François Piron
Exhibition Tour: 

Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto (March 24 - July 1, 2012)

Vito Acconci, John Ashbery, Jean-Christophe Averty, Denise Bellon, Léon Benett, Jean-Yves Bosseur, Olivier de Bouchony, George Brecht, André Breton, Jacqueline Breton, Marcel Broodthaers, Anne de Brunhoff, Jacques B. Brunius, Michel Butor, Jacques Carelman, Lionel Charbonnier, Giorgio de Chirico, Guy de Cointet, Joseph Cornell, Julio Cortázar, Salvador Dalí, René Daniëls, Paul Delvaux, Robert Desnos, Marcel Duchamp, Jerôme Ducrot, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Öyvind Fahlström, Juan Esteban Fassio, Jean Ferry, Morgan Fischer, Camille Flammarion, Michel Foucault, Terry Fox, Alberto Giacometti, Régent Gil, Rodney Graham, Raymond Hains, Charles Herbert, Rebecca Horn, Victor Hugo, Cristina Iglesias, Pierre Janet, Edouard Jouve, Mike Kelley, Frederick Kiesler, J. Lea, Frères Lecreux, Michel Leiris, Eugène Leterrier, Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky), Paul Margueritte, Victor Margueritte, Henri Marruel, André Masson, Harry Mathews, Roberto Matta, Georges Méliès, Arnold Mortier, Ree Morton, Alfons Mucha, Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Georges Perec, Francis Picabia, Marcel Proust, Markus Raetz, André Rogi, Jean Rouch, Henri Rousseau, Allen Ruppersberg, Raymond Russel, Niki de Saint Phalle, Néstor Sanmiguel Diest, Victorien Sardou, John Schiff, John Smith, Jean Tinguely, Francisco Tropa, Albert Vanloo, Julio Verne, Franz Erhard Walther View more