As the first MCA show to display work from some of the earliest formations of the post-war European neo-avant-garde, this exhibition featured three concurrent, yet distinct, collections of work by Alain Jacquet (French, 1939–2008), Martial Raysse (French, b. 1936) and Jean Tinguely (Swiss, 1925–1991). Included in the exhibition were 23 works by Jacquet made using silkscreens and acrylic paint, 18 mixed-media pieces by Raysse that combined oil paint and imagery of women from advertisements, and 27 motorized kinetic sculptures by Tinguely. While Jacquet is more often associated with American pop art, Raysse and Tinguely acted as founding members of the movement known as nouveau réalisme.
With a one-sentence manifesto—“The New Realists have become conscious of their collective identity; New Realism = Perceptions of the real”—French art critic Pierre Restany (1930–2003) assembled the nouveau realists in 1960. The group included artists such as Yves Klein (French, 1928–1962), Arman (French, 1928–2005), and Daniel Spoerri (Swiss, b. 1930). Through their shared engagement with the "real” in modern society, Raysee, Jacquet, and Tinguely utilized collage aesthetics in their appropriations and alterations of both consumer and industrial products, such as neon tubing, fashion magazines, and scrap metal. In their critiques of popular and consumer culture, “public” space, and the artificial separation between the materials of everyday life and artistic production, many of their works engage with various concepts and practices in coterminous neo-avant-garde movements. Raysse’s use of mass media imagery from billboards, posters and magazines, Jacquet’s adoption of commercial printing processes for their immediacy and reproducibility, and Tinguely’s parody of industry and formal artistry through self-destructive sculptures hold definite parallels to the practices and sensibilities of American pop art.