Françoise Dufrêne (1930-1982) was a Lettrist and Ultra-Lettrist poet and a visual artist associated with the New Realists, primarily known for his pioneering sound poetry and his innovative tactics of décollage.
Françoise Dufrêne holdings at the Beinecke
En marge: la revue du refus pour une nouvelle participation, 1955, no. 1, founded by Dufrêne and Serge Berna.
Tombeau de Pierre Larousse: poésie von François Dufrêne, 1961 (in French and German).
Asger Jorn. Au pied du mur et un trilogue de l'artiste avec Noël Arnaud et François Dufrêne, 1969, exhibition catalog.
Production materials for OU, including a galley of "Pragmatique du crirythme" by François Dufrêne.
Poésie sonore internationale, 1979, by Henri Chopin, featuring original artwork by artists including Dufrêne.
Pour François Dufrêne, 1930-1982, 1982, Centre Georges Pompidou, exhibition catalog.
Cantate des mots camés, 1988, exhibition catalog.
Revue OU, 2003, compilation of recordings originally circulated with the periodical.
Born in Paris, François Dufrêne decided as a young man to pursue poetry rather than visual art. In 1946, he joined Lettrisme (Lettrism), a group of experimental poets that had formed in Paris around the Romanian artist Isidore Isou. Dufrêne actively created radically new sound experiments in these years. Like the other members of the Lettrist circle, he sought to carry the poetic experiments of Dada artists even further. He developed a particular mode of sound poetry composed of guttural shrieks and cries, which he called crirythme. Dufrêne was also interested in the relation between language, image, and meaning, and in 1953, he developed Tambours du jugement premier, an imaginary movie, with no screen or film. Around 1957, he developed a new mode of visual art production: he would rip off posters hung on the streets of Paris, and present them framed and hung as paintings. These palimpsest collages of found text and image offered an encounter, in his words, of “almost geological infrastructures” made up by the different layers of paper.
Dufrêne split from the Lettrist group in 1958. Along with Jean-Louis Brau and Gil J Wolman, he continued to pursue experiments in poetry, sound, and performance. Calling themselves the Ultra-Lettrist, they now sought to draw out the single letter as a radical constellation of phonemic and guttural articulations. The group produced a periodical called grammeS, which ran for seven issues between 1957 and 1961. In the journal they published hypergraphics, a critical method that synthesizes writing and other forms of media, and included exchanges with the Lettrist journal Poésie nouvelle and the Situationist International. In the early 1970s, Dufrêne created stencils and stamps, using a layered approach similar to that found in his poster collages. He continued to experiment with sound and text as well. His poem Cantante des mots camés (1972-77), a sonorous structure made of syllabic combinations, was re-imagined as a collection of drawings in 1977.
In 1960, Dufrêne became involved with the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realists) group, co-founded by the art critic Pierre Restany and the painter Yves Klein. Other artists involved included Arman, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and two other Ultra-Lettrists, Raymond Hains and Jacques de la Villeglé. The group was short-lived, however; they struggled to sustain a cohesive program following the death of Yves Klein in June 1962. Dufrêne’s first solo exhibition occurred the following year. He continued to produce art until the time of his death in 1982.
"J'interroge et j'invective," poem by François Dufrêne, in soundtrack to the Isidore Isou's film Traité de bave et d'éternité, 1951.
Audio recording of Triptycrirythme, 1966.