Raymond Hains (French, 1926-2005) Seita 1966-1967

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Lot 29AR TP
Raymond Hains
(French, 1926-2005)
Seita
1966-1967

Sold for £ 134,500 (US$ 184,838) inc. premium
Raymond Hains (French, 1926-2005)
Seita
1966-1967

signed, titled, dated Venezia 1966-67 and inscribed collectionne Galleria il Canale on the inside
painted wood

Dimensions when installed: 211 by 169.5 by 100 cm.
83 1/16 by 66 3/4 by 39 3/8 in.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Galleria il Canale, Venice
    Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner
    Thence by descent to the present owner

    Exhibited
    Verona, Palazzo Forti, Dadaismo Dadaismi Da Duchamp a Warhol, 1997, p. 306, no. 289, illustrated in colour



    Seita belongs to one of Raymond Hains' most significant series of artworks, begun in 1964, and represents the artist's attempt to avoid being type cast as working in a singular style. In his early career Hains had experimented with Dadaist inspired photography before becoming renowned for Affichisme; décollage works formed from layers of ripped and weathered posters, carefully cut from the street and recomposed in an abstracted pictorial format. These collages were closely associated with the Nouveau Réalisme movement, a term penned by art critic Pierre Restany during an exhibition at Galleria Apollinaire, Milan in 1960, which displayed Hains' work alongside those of Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and Jacques de la Villeglé. This avant-garde group, later expanded to include Christo, César, Mimmo Rotella and Niki de Saint-Phalle, drew heavily on the notion of 'reality', sourcing material from everyday objects and re-contextualising them in a Duchampian fashion. In Hains' case this meant finding truth and beauty in the archaeology of deteriorating street advertisement hoardings.

    Whilst the Seita and Saffa series, produced in conjunction with each other, differed dramatically from these iconic décollages they undoubtedly shared the same creative imperatives. Their titles were lifted from the acronyms for S.E.I.T.A. the former French state-owned tobacco and match company, and S.A.F.F.A. its' Italian equivalent, whilst the works themselves were a playful recreation of their products with the names transposed, thus the Saffa series depicted S.E.I.T.A. merchandise and vice versa.

    Reproductions rather than ready-mades, these works almost exclusively focused on the depiction of the match in sculptural form, occasionally as a single entity, more often than not encased together in a box or book, such as with the present sculpture. An everyday object, the match is both cheap and disposable, and yet also a significant solution to that most primal of human needs, the ability to create heat and light. This dichotomy is reinforced by the monumental proportions employed by the artist on this work and the others from the series. Measuring at just under 220 cm. high and therefore being one of the very largest examples, Seita's inflated sense of scale elevates this very humble, mass-produced object into the realms of fine, or more specifically, Pop Art, recalling the oversized replicas of Claes Oldenburg's sculptures. Whether depicting the ubiquitous three way plug or the humdrum match, the simplicity and serialisation of motifs define these works within this movement, however Seita is more than just a gigantic Pop tour-de-force as the artist has one further pun at his disposal. Matches are by their very nature self-destructive, in a single stroke they can be all-consuming, and this symbolism is powerfully evocative of Hains' attempts to extradite himself from every art movement that he had become aligned with.

    The present work, housed in the same private family collection since its execution comes, was last on public view in 1997, with over 300 other masterworks in Dadaismo Dadaismi Da Duchamp a Warhol, the prestigious exhibition, held in Palazzo Forti, Verona, exploring Dadaism and its continuing legacy. Hains is an essential part of this legacy, remaining an unclassifiable figurehead in Post-War French art, linked to but never defined by its most significant movements. Seita reminds us that as an artist he has the constant ability to playfully reinvent himself whilst remaining grounded in his presentation of the 'real'.
Contacts
Raymond Hains (French, 1926-2005) Seita 1966-1967
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