The title of this work is the Paris address from which the artist removed these torn movie posters and political notices (related to the city’s May 1968 student and worker demonstrations). He pasted the layers of fragmentary color, words, and images onto canvas. This work is exemplary of Nouveau Réalisme, a European movement of the 1950s and 1960s devoted to transforming everyday objects into art.
Gallery label from 2011.
The title of this work derives from the street in Paris from which these torn posters were taken. The layers of fragmentary color, words, and images of faces were pasted onto linen in a technique called décollage (literally, un-collage). In this technique, posters or other promotional materials are torn up to create new compositions, with one image often superimposed over another. Villeglé stated that 122 rue du Temple, a combination of movie posters and political advertisements for a legislative election instigated by the events of May 1968 in Paris, is a reflection of reality. Thus, not only is he interested in the visual impact and pictorial construction of his works, but he also confers upon them a sociological status. Villeglé has devoted his entire career to décollage. He was affiliated with Nouveau Réalisme, a French art movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s devoted to transforming everyday objects and detritus into art in the belief that painting was incapable of conveying the actuality of postwar society. Villeglé sees the street as a repository of ready-made art. He invented the persona of the anonymous passerby, or common man, whose random tears are "discovered" by the artist and thereby poeticized. Through this incorporation of chance and choice, Villeglé assumes the role of a conservator of works of art unconsciously created by others.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999.