Torn Poster Art at the République Metro Station in Paris

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

Here's a basic photograph that I found after the fact that shows part of the République Metro Station in Paris ... you can see how the billboard advertisements line this particular wall and curve up along with the arch of the metro tunnel ceiling. On the day that I entered this metro station, however, the billboards looked a little different: every single one of them was ripped and shredded. Scroll down below the picture for more ...

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A view inside the Republique Metro Station in Paris

Before I show you my pictures of ripped and shredded billboards, let me explain why this particular scenario caught my attention. There's an art work at MoMA that has long stuck in my memory, it's a collection of torn posters that have been applied to canvas - so it's presented like a painting, even though it's a collage. The work is titled 122 rue du Temple, 1968, by the French artist Jacques de la Villeglé, and is shown below left.

The title of Villeglé's art work is the Paris address from which the artist removed these torn movie posters and political notices. This artist and this type of work are considered examples of the art movement called "Nouveau Réalisme," a European movement of the 1950s and 1960s devoted to transforming everyday objects into art.

torn poster art titled 122 rue du Temple by Jacques de la Villegle

Considering that this artist is French, and the fact that the stylistic art movement was founded in Europe, it makes me wonder if the person(s) responsible for tearing up every billboard in this section of the République Metro Station were paying homage to this particular art style? Or am I reading too much into a coincidence that I found this scenario in Paris? At any rate, all I can say that being in this part of the metro station was like being in an art exhibition of works by Villeglé.

In researching this topic, I learned a new word which could be applied to this type of art: "palimpsest." While this term primarily refers to documents with multiple layers of writing, it also has the definition of "something altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form." This second definition certainly applies to the visual effect of these multiple layers of posters which, when torn, show previously pasted-over layers that were hiding underneath.

All right, enough with the build-up ... here's four pictures (below) of the torn poster billboards that I saw that day at the République Metro Station in Paris. I think Jacques de la Villeglé would appreciate the handiwork here:

torn posters on a billboard in the Republique Metro Station

billboard with torn posters seen in Paris

torn posters on a billboard in a Paris metro station

an example of torn poster art seen in the Republique Metro Station in Paris

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