Claude Gilli (1938-2015)
A leading exponent of the Ecole de Nice, he is considered by most to be the only true French Pop artist, along with Martial Raysse. He was born in Nice on 15 September 1938 and attended the school of decorative arts in the city, where he came into contact with Raysse himself. In 1958 with the latter and Albert Chubac, he inaugurated the “Laboratoire 32”, Ben Vautier’s gallery, with a collective exhibition. In the 1960s, Gilli collaborated in the creation of the Nouveau Réalisme movement, being one of the most active exponents. It was in these years that he developed the first series of relief tables, made of carved wood (with the blessing of Arman that gave him an electric saw) and dominated by the color blue. His dedication to art is such that on New Year’s Eve of 1962, he burns almost everything he had produced so far. In the following years, under the influence of American Pop Art, his subjects left the frame, with the first “castings”, a cross between sculpture and painting. His continuous desire for research led him over the years to first experiment with the abandonment of color, with the “phantom” tables made of transparent plexiglass, and finally the use of snail shells for the creation of sculptures. He died in June 2015: his work imposes itself as a variegated and evolving artistic work, from which emerges however the figure of an artist who, in the historical context of the Nouveau Réalisme and of the Pop Art, maintains his Nicoise authenticity.