Autoportrait bien fait, mal fait, pas fait (Self-Portrait Well Made, Badly Made, Not Made)

Robert Filliou

Sauve, France, 1926 - Les Eyzies, France, 1987
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  • Material: 
    Wood, pencil, ink, black and white photograph and canvas
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  • Descriptive technique: 
    Work consisting of a black and white photograph with scribbling in ink, a frame stretcher with an inscription and a canvas with a screwed-on box
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: 34 x 94,5 x 7 cm / Right part: 26,8 x 22 cm / Central part: 28,3 x 38 cm / Left part: 26,8 x 21,8 x 7 cm
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Robert Filliou’s work was born of the art/life interconnections that came about from the late 1950s onwards, and really took off as part of the living, anti-art, anti-commercial driving force that was Fluxus. As Filliou himself said: “Art is what makes life more interesting than art.” Authorship, much-reviled artistic “taste” and the very existence of the artwork are all challenged with gestures not far from the Marcel Duchamp ready-mades. The work consists of a photograph of the artist wearing a paper hat (an inescapable iconic reference to puppet regimes and fake authority), an empty wooden box and the back of a canvas bearing the hand-written inscription “Portrait de l’artiste”. Autoportrait bien fait, mal fait, pas fait (Self-Portrait Well Made, Badly Made, Not Made) is an ironic comment on the artwork’s iconic character, by means of a triptych created to ridicule both the artist himself and his creation. An addition to the old academic idea of art being “well” or “badly” made is the concept of it being “not made”, as a recognition of inactivity or a reminder of the progressive disappearance of the artist as he had been conceived up to that point, or of the dematerialisation of the work of art as actions are pursued that expand the traditional physical frameworks of art.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio