Photo based painting-collage Based on fragments of advertising posters from the 1940’s to the 1960’s found on walls in the Paris metro during the renovation of the metro stations.

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by Thomas Dellert 2010


When I was living in Paris for many years I naturally used the METRO, moving from one part to another in this city of poetry, lovers and lights.

One day I happened to be traveling when I realized they were renovating the walls in many old stations ,and by doing so they unveiled what was under the big billboards for advertising covering the entire platform walls. Suddenly for the first time in over 50 years the traces of times gone by, was revealed. It consisted in “Fragments” of old advertising posters dating as long back as the 1940’s during the German occupation of the city. On some of them one could still read the German sentences now only like an Enigma code left for prosperity.

These fragments of old posters where the inspiration for many artist in the 1950’s as they used to tear them down and glue them on canvas or metal as part of a new art movement called “Le Noveaux Realism“. I grow up in the 1950’s admiring this poetic deconstructions of what used to be advertising campaigns now turned into nonfigurative (in most cases ) art works. Since the age of about 12 I fell in love with these collages in either bald childish colors or dangerously strong combination of red black and white. Now I was again confronted with this magic ready-mades, and this time not as art works in a museum, but as the “Original” wall art of the Paris Metro. I rushed home to Montmartre to get my camera only to find that when I came back they had already started to disappear. Hour by hour the workers unaware of the treasures they scrapped down to take away in black plastic garbage bags actually was valuable art for the connoisseur. So I had to go from Metro station to station in a hunt for what had not already been destroyed forever. I took as many shots as I had chance to do and the result is like a poetic fragment, of memory like a lost languish (une langue perdu). From a time that was not as fast as ours, but still in a dark tunnel where the Metro trains passed by with the speed of dreams.

Metronome is a dada playing with words like METRO and Nom (Name in French) and a “Metronome” is used to measure the time and tempo in music, and is also one of the major "Ready Made" art works by Man Ray and have been the symbole of my artistic universe for years.

For me The Paris Metro is like, music, a symphony of time passing by. I made this set of New Noveaux Realistes art, to pay homage to masters of this form, like Raymond Heins, Villegle and Mimmo Rotella.

“J’suis L’poinconneur des Lilas , Pour Invalide change A Opera

Je vis au ceur d’la planete , J’ai dans la tete,

Un carnival de confetti

J’en amene jusque dans mon lit, et sous mon ciel de faience

Je n‘vois briller que les correspondances

Parffois je Reve je divague , Je vois des vague

Et dans la brume au bout du quai

J’vois un bateaau qui vient m’chercher.”

Serge Gainsbourg