Henri Chopin

and OU

 

Henri Chopin was a French avant-garde artist (1922-2008) best known for his experimental sound and concrete poetry. He was also an accomplished graphic artist, designer, typographer, and independent publisher, most notably of the experimental sound and poetry journal OU.

Le dernier des papers...

Le dernier des papers...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Soleil pale d'hiver...

Soleil pale d'hiver...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

EN FACE de moi...

EN FACE de moi...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

L'elegance devoir...

L'elegance devoir...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Henri au serpent de'ignorance...

Henri au serpent de'ignorance...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Hors des griffes religieuses...

Hors des griffes religieuses...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Partie de Becket...

Partie de Becket...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Oh! Que ma fete Nocturne...

Oh! Que ma fete Nocturne...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

La balance...

La balance...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Mort engage = ceinture

Mort engage = ceinture

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Sans sun bruissement...

Sans sun bruissement...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Henri Chopin

Henri Chopin was born in June 1922 to a Jewish family in Paris. In 1940, when France fell to the advancing German army, Chopin, his parents, and two older brothers fled to the south. The family was captured and held in a forced labor camp in Olomouc, territory that is now part of the Czech Republic. The camp was later bombed by the allies and Chopin, then around twenty years old, was able to escape. He traveled for a time with the advancing Red Army but was later recaptured by the Germans and sent west on one of the infamous death marches between eastern Prussia and the Lithuanian border. He survived, and returned to Paris in 1945; his brothers, however, were not so fortunate: one was shot while sabotaging a German train, the other killed by a German soldier the day after armistice was declared. Chopin served in the army between 1948 and 1952, and fought in the Indo-China. After returning to France and marrying his wife, Jean, he worked as a radio and television producer.

 

Between 1958 and 1974, Chopin edited and designed an international journal of experimental concrete and sound poetry, originally called Cinquième Saison, but no known as OU. Following the failed uprisings of May 1968, he settled in Essex, England, where he would live until Jean's death in 1985, at which point he returned to France. During the 1980s, Chopin spent time in Naples collaborating on publications with Peppe Morra, founder of Fondazione Morroa, a celebrated space for contemporary art. Chopin returned to England in 2001 to live with his daughter in Norfolk. Until his death on January 3, 2008, at the age of 85, Chopin continued to travel to give live performances from his wheelchair.

 

Chopin's so-called dactylopoèmes, or concrete poems created with a typewriter, are held in art collections and have been exhibited internationally. His books include Le Dernier Roman du Monde (1971), Portrait des 9 (1975), The Cosmographical Lobster (1976), Poésie Sonore Internationale (1979), Les Riches Heures de l'Alphabet (1992) and Graphpoemes-machine (2006).

Henri Chopin

Le dernier des papers...

Le dernier des papers...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Soleil pale d'hiver...

Soleil pale d'hiver...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

EN FACE de moi...

EN FACE de moi...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

L'elegance devoir...

L'elegance devoir...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Henri au serpent de'ignorance...

Henri au serpent de'ignorance...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Hors des griffes religieuses...

Hors des griffes religieuses...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Partie de Becket...

Partie de Becket...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Oh! Que ma fete Nocturne...

Oh! Que ma fete Nocturne...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

La balance...

La balance...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Mort engage = ceinture

Mort engage = ceinture

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Sans sun bruissement...

Sans sun bruissement...

From Les Milles Pensées (Chopin Papers, Box 30)

Henri Chopin Papers

Collection Highlights:

 

Henri Chopin Papers document the artist's work and life, spanning 1948 to 2008, and consist of personal and professional correspondence, writings relating to various publications, original artwork (including typewriter poems and collages), manuscripts and writings by others, photographs, audiovisual materials, brochures and posters related to exhibitions and performances, and files related to the publication of OU.

 

Publications

 

Periodicals

 

Print matter

 

Design

Sound recordings

 

Finding Aid:

The Chopin Papers have been cataloged under four main subdivisions: correspondence; original works of art, by Chopin and others; manuscripts for Chopin's own publications; and audio material, produced by Chopin and others.

 

OU

In December 1958, Chopin published his first "audio-poème" in a new magazine that provided a forum for traditional and experimental poetry side by side, Cinquième Saison. By the time the next issue appeared in March 1959, Chopin had replaced the magazine's founder, Raymond Syte, as sole editor, and from 1959 to 19 64 he published another sixteen issues of Cinquième Saison before changing its title to OU in 1964. The change signaled a radical change in approach. Devoted exclusively to experimental visual and sound poetry and performance, OU continued to appear as a tour de force under Chopin's direction for an entire decade, the last issue being published in 1974.

 

Issue of OU featured concrete, visual, and typewriter poems, and most also including a vinyl record showcasing accoustic performances by Chopin, Raoul Hausmann, Gil J. Wolman, Francois Dufrêne, Bernhard Heidsieck, Paul Devree, Ladislav Novak, Bryon Gysing, Bob Cobbing, William Burroughs, and others who appeared in Chopin's 1979 survey, Poésie sonore internationale ("International Sound Poetry"). Images, screenprints, multiples, and original works of art were circulated in a limited run of the deluxe edition, of which Beinecke holds the personal copy owned by Jean Radcliffe, Chopin's wife. The journal brought together international contemporary writers and artists such as Jiří Kolář, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Gysin, Burroughs, and many others, including representatives of Lettrism and Fluxus. Chopin also re-introduced the work of earlier generations, including pieces by Raoul Hausmann, a founder of Berlin Dada, whom Chopin met shortly before he died.

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OU 28/29
OU 28/29

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OU LP 40/41
OU LP 40/41

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Video Resources

Resources

 

Selected texts, available on Ubuweb, including several short articles about Chopin, as well as two brief texts by Chopin: "Short extract about my working method using my voice...." (1994); "The New Media" (1995).

 

Selection of sound recordings by Chopin, available on Ubuweb, including:

  • Cantata for Two Farts & Co.

  • Les Mirifiques Tundras & Co.

  • Les Chuitantes Respirent

  • Throat Power

  • Vertigo Du Vertige

  • La Digestion

  • Les Pirouettes Vocales Pour Les Pirouettements Vocaux

  • Les Souffles Des Tempêtes

  • La civilisation du papier (1975)

  • Extrême Tension (1974)

  • Définition des Lettres Suivantes (1975)

 

Audio-poèmes, including:

  • "Rouge" (1956)

  • "Pêche de Nuit" (1957)

  • "Sol Air" (1961-64)

  • "Indicatif 1" (1962)

  • "Vibrespace" (1963)

  • "La Fusée Interplanétaire" (1963)

  • "La Fusée Interplanétaire" (1963)

  • "L'énergie du sommeil" (1965)

  • "Le Corps: Déchirure de l'air" (1966)

  • "Le Corps: Brisure du Corps" (1966)

  • "Le Corps: Chant du Corps" (1966)

  • "2500, les Grenouilles d'Aristophane" (1967)

  • "Lè Ventre de Bertini" (1967)

  • "Mes Bronches" (1968)

  • "Le Rire est Debout" (1969)

  • "Double Extension" (1970), voice: Chopin; electronic composition: Sten Hanson)

  • "Hoppa Bock" (1970)

  • "Les Mandibules du Déjeuner sur l'Herbe" (1971)

  • "Tête á Tête" (1971-73), Sten Hanson and Chopin

  • "Le Soleil est mécanique" (1972), voice: Denis Chopin, audio: Chopin

  • "Dynamisme intégral" (1973)

  • "French Lesson" (1974)

  • "L'Agrippe des Droits" (1980)

  • Henri Chopin at Supportico Lopez