Who’s that guy?

A film, a portrait of Guy de Cointet (1934-1983), a French-born artist based in California who created text and sculptural works, often combining them as props and stage sets in theatrical performance pieces.

The film is composed of interviews and documents compiled by art critic Marie de Brugerolle over a period of 10 years. Artists including John Baldessari, Christophe Bourseiller, Larry Bell and Paul McCarthy talk about their contemporary Guy de Cointet and unreleased documents provided insight into the singularity of his work.

Guy de Cointet (American, b. France. 1934–1983) was fascinated with language, which he explored primarily through performance and drawing. His practice involved collecting random phrases, words, and even single letters from popular culture and literary sources—he often cited Raymond Roussel’s novel “Impressions of Africa” as influential—and working these elements into non-linear narratives, which were presented as plays to his audience.

Paintings and works on paper would then figure prominently within these performances. In his play “At Sunrise . . . A Cry Was Heard” (1976), a large painting depicting letters bisected by a white sash served as a main subject and prop, with the lead actress continuously referring to it and reading its jumble of letters as if it were an ordinary script. His drawings likewise are almost readable but just beyond comprehension.

De Cointet is recognized as one of the major figures in the Conceptual art movement that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1970s, having strongly influenced a number of prominent artists working in southern California today, including Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley, for whom both drawing and performance figure significantly in their artistic practices.

Marie de Brugerolle is an art historian, critic and curator (Hors Limites, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Bruce Nauman, Moma, New York, and Gravity, Allen Ruppersberg, Magasin, Grenoble, Guy de Cointet, Mamco, Geneva and Tate Modern, London, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Carré d’art, Nîmes, Not to Play with Dead Things , Villa Arson, Nice, Yvonne De Carlo, MUSAC, León, etc. ). Her texts have been published in numerous catalogues and magazines (Art Press, Semaines, 20/27, Artforum…).

Who’s that guy? - Tell me more about Guy de Cointet (DVD)
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