Raymond Hains — Saffa — Seita



Raymond Hains
Saffa — Seita

Ends in 14 days: September 8 → October 6, 2018

Galerie Max Hetzler announces the exhibition Saffa — Seita featuring matchbooks and giant matches in bronze by Raymond Hains at the Paris gallery.

Raymond Hains is regarded as one of the most important French Post-war artists. Often associated with New Realism, he soon distanced himself from the movement to conduct his own researches, creating works that constantly challenge our perception and definitions of art. Renowned for his torn posters and palissades (board fences), Hains has also created a significant series of giant matches.
In 1964, Hains initiated a body of work based on language, analogy and chance, revealing hidden connections between these seemingly disparate elements. Settled in Venice at that time, he created the two fictional characters Saffa and Seita, which derived from the names of the Italian national company for matches and the French equivalent for tobacco, exhibiting oversized versions of the matchbooks and matchboxes commercialised by the two firms. The artist presented himself as the two fictional arsonist artists’ agent, both a mentor and a parasite, caricaturing the use of objects by the New Realists as well as the monopoly of their distribution on the art market. He played with roles and identities, sometimes signing artworks with Saffa/Seita © Raymond Hains. He has said « I had imagined two artists who would each have a monopoly on matchbooks. It was a trick to help illustrate what I thought of New Realism, which could have been called ‘personified abstraction’» (interview with Marc Bormand, February 1999).

The giant matchbooks openly refer to the work around objects of Claes Oldenburg who, just as Raymond Hains, took part in the 1964 Venice Biennale. The vertical alignment of the giant matches are reminiscent of other series made by Hains such as the palissades, while the form of the matches remind us of human figures and could be seen as a personification of the two companies.

The monumental scale of this mundane object condemns the overwhelming power of brands in our consumer society. Hains draws our attention to everyday objects so as to change our perception of reality.

Raymond Hains has regularly exhibited his matches since the beginning of the 60s, notably at Galerie Iris Clert (Paris, 1965), Documenta IV (Kassel, 1968) and Galleria Blu (Milan, 1970). He created variations of this series over the years, up until the late giant matches made en 2005.
This exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Thomas Hains, the representative of the estate.


Raymond Hains (1926-2005) participated in major international exhibitions such as The art of assemblage (MoMA, New York, 1961), Paris-Paris (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1982), Documenta IV (Kassel, 1968) and Documenta X (Kassel, 1997). His first survey exhibition in a public institution took place in 1976 in Paris. Between 2000 and 2002, retrospective exhibitions have been organized at Centre Pompidou (Paris), MACBA (Barcelona), Foundation Serralves (Porto) and Moore College of Art (Philadelphia). His work is held in various museum collections including the Musée national d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Fondation Cartier (Paris), MoMa (New York), Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Sprengel Museum (Hannover), Foundation Serralves (Porto), Berardo Museum (Lisbon), MACBA (Barcelona), MuMOK (Vienna), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), etc.