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Lemaître, Maurice, 1926-



  • Existence: 1926

Maurice Lemaître, born Moïse Bismuth in Paris in 1926, was a leading voice of the mainstream Lettrism movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and continues to be one of its most active and outspoken proponents to this day. Lemaître joined the Lettrism movement in 1949/1950, four years after it was founded by Isidore Isou. He produced several important theoretical works of the early 1950s, including Sistème de Notasion pour les lètries (1952), Qu'est-ce que le Lettrisme? (1954) and Bilan Lettriste (1955), as well as practical applications in experimental painting, music, book design, theater, and cinema. When Guy Debord led a schism away from the group around Isou in 1952, Lemaître became the leading spokesman of the movement’s “moderate” wing, which he defended through polemical engagements against Debord and the Lettrist (later the Situationist) International.

In addition to being a major theoretician and practicing artist, Lemaître became increasingly important as the movement’s publisher, not only editing but also financing the publication of the first Lettrist revues, including Front de la Jeunesse, Poésie nouvelle, and Ur, among others. He helped organize the first Lettrist exhibitions in the United States, and also provided support for the next generation of Lettrists, including Roland Sabatier and Alain Satié, at crucial points in their careers. The second series of Ur (1963-1967) was an important venue for Lettrist experimentation for such artists and became the launchpad for the Centre de Créativité.

Over the course of his career, Lemaître worked to preserve an historical record of the cultural and political activity of the Lettrism movement. He acquired manuscripts and tracts from Isou and Gabriele Pomerand documenting the first years of the movement from 1945 to 1950, and himself kept notes, letters, tracts, essays, artwork, and the related production materials documenting the movement's output from 1950 onwards.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Bismuth-Lemaître papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 754
Overview: The Bismuth-Lemaître Papers is comprised of material created and compiled by Maurice Lemaître, documenting the Lettrism movement from its inception in 1945 to the present day and Lemaître's own cultural and political activities as a leader of the movement. According to Lemaître's wishes, the title of the collection incorporates his birth name in order to reflect his heritage.
Dates: 1920-2009

Gil J Wolman papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 969
Overview: The Gil J Wolman papers consists of correspondence, writings, printed items, artworks, photographs, sound recordings, and other materials by or relating to French artist Gil J Wolman (1929-1995) and his milieu. The collection documents the early Lettrist movement of the 1950s through correspondence, writings of Wolman and others, and materials related to Lettrist films, especially Wolman's Anticoncept (1952) and Isidore Isou's Traite? de bave et d'e?ternite? (1951). The collection also...
Dates: 1937-2011, bulk 1950-1995