Henri Chopin, To Ray the Rays: Poème Classique (Dactylopoème), Dactylopoème, 1984, 1986, 1992, Silkscreen on cloth, 219 × 155 cm, Unique
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
1 / 9
Each edition comprises nine silkscreens on cloth, each with a repeating orange typeface patterned outside border and, framing the title, an inside border differing in typeface pattern and colour: red, light blue, ocher, green, blue, black, light brown, brown, and grey.
  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 219 × 155 cm
    (86 ¼ × 61 inches)
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  • Henri Chopin was a French poet, typographer, musician, independent publisher, and a pioneer of sound and concrete poetry. A vanguardist artist, he is most known for liberating sound and language from typographical conventions, notably through his dactylpoème (typewriter poems) and audio-poémes. Born into a family of artists, Chopin received a liberal education until the height of World War II, when he was deported to a labor camp in Königsberg, East Prussia. He fled the Soviet Union to France in 1945, eventually enrolling in the army from 1948 to 1950, which took him to Austria and Indochina. Back in Paris, Chopin approached avant-garde poetics and the “oral” experimental poetry from Czechoslovakia, Russia, Poland, and the Baltics. A significant influence and collaborator, Jean Ratcliffe, whom he married in 1952, introduced him to Bernard Heidsieck, Ladislav Novak, and Raoul Hausmann, among others. Between 1958 and 1974, Chopin edited and designed an international journal of experimental concrete and sound poetry, originally called Cinquième Saison, but now known as OU. Chopin’s performances and recordings emphasize the organicity of the human anatomy and its reverberating effects on the outside. From nasal vibrations to guttural cries or infamously swallowing a probe for La Digestion (1974), his explorations of human noise obliterate the tone between inside and outside, chaos and harmony further manipulated and pioneered through studio and tape recorder experiments. An “éminence grise,” as Francesco Conz described him, Chopin’s poetry found a home in Conz’s support and enthusiasm for multiples. Chopin’s notable publications include Le dernier roman du monde (1961), Le homard cosmographique (1965), Poésie Sonore Internationale (1979), Les Riches Heures de l‘Alphabet (1992) and Graphpoemesmachine (2006) published by Archivio Conz. Throughout his career, he exhibited and performed internationally at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (1974), the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1983), the ICA, London (2009), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012), the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2013), and the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2017).

Artworks (15)