Rachel Valinsky invites seven artists from both sides of the Atlantic to share their views of Guy de Cointet.
Guy de Cointet is a major figure in the conceptual and performance art movements. Originally from France, he moved to the United States in 1966, and remained an active member of the California art scene until his death in 1983. His multidisciplinary work has been the subject of renewed attention over the past twenty years. Rachel Valinsky invites seven artists based on both sides of the Atlantic to shed light, more vividly than ever, on the impact of his work.
Rachel Valinsky (born 1990 in Paris) is a writer, editor, and translator living in New York. She is the Managing Editor at the Center for Art, Research and Alliances, New York, and co-founder and Artistic Director of Wendy's Subway, a nonprofit arts and literary organization in Brooklyn, New York. Her writings on performance, dance, and moving-image work has appeared in Artforum, PAJ: Performance Art Journal, e-flux criticism, Art in America, BOMB, frieze, and has been published by the Berlinale International Film Festival, Danspace Project, and Sternberg Books, among others. Her research on Guy de Cointet, object theater, and performance props has been presented as part of the Museum Research Consortium at the MoMA, and at conferences at the CUNY Graduate Center, Brown University, and the University of Buffalo, and has received support from the Guy de Cointet Society. Valinsky holds an MPhil in Art History from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and teaches courses in art history, performance studies, art writing, and critical thinking at New York University and The New School.
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.