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.
Henri Chopin Papers
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.
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.
Other Henri Chopin material
Publications (in chronological order)
Le dernier roman du monde, 1961.
L'armoire: pièce burlesque, 1963.
Hedendaags, Galerij Drieghe: zondag van de poëzie/fonetische poëzie, 1963, exhibition catalogue of group show of experimental sound and concrete poetry, featuring Paul de Vree along with Chopin and others (French and Dutch).
"La création musicale," in Cahiers du Centre d'Art abstrait de Tahiti 8, Jan. 1964, article by Chopin and Maguy Lovano, accompanied by an illustration.
Indicatif II, 1966.
Le disque à feu de Bernard Aubertin et mode d'emploi graphique, 1967, concrete poems inspired by a sculpture by Aubertin.
Henri Chopin, 1972, catalog of retrospective exhibition at Ceolfrith Arts Center.
Three artists, six images. Portfolio VII, 1973, work by Chopin, John Furnival, and Tom Phillips.
Il faut bien rire un peu, 1974.
Chronique 1974 , 1975.
Poésie sonore internationale, 1979, one of the limited edition copies that includes original works on paper by Chopin as well as François Dufrene, Brion Gysin, Bernard Heidsieck, and others, and comes with two audio cassettes.
Concerto en Zhopin mineur, 1982.
The Conference of Yalta, 1985 (in English and German).
Le Corpsbis, 1985, transcript of a radio program discussion with Klaus Schöning and Peter Esser about Chopin's audiopoem "Le Corpsbis."
Graphèmes en vibrances, 1990.
J'ose!: défier, 1992.
Henri Chopin: Revue Ou, Collection Ou, 1993, catalog of exhibition at Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen.
À "La maison rose," 1993, with John Furnival, Remy Pénard.
The Rich Hours, 1993.
Les riches heures de l'alphabet, 1993, with Paul Zumthor.
Language/poetry/performance, 2000, catalog of concrete poetry by a number of international artists, including Chopin, Bob Cobbing, and Steve McCaffery.
Notes au soleil, 2000.
Luce Lune, 2001.
(Italian and French)
La chambre close: réflexion sur la création poétique, 2008, loose works by Chopin laid in a portfolio.
Le silence lance l'air, 2008.
Cinquième saison : revue de poésie évolutive, 1958-63, nos. 1-19 (Spring 1958-Summer/Autumn 1963).
Écritures, 1980, periodical that includes concrete poems by Chopin.
Ad for OU 40-41, 1972.
Festival de Fort Boyard, 1967, posters.
Portfolio Chopin: ce portfolio est dédié à Henri Chopin, 1978, includes original photographs (French and English).
À perte de langue, 1979, prints by Chopin and sixteen other artists, including Gérard Duchêne and Bernard Heidsieck.
Tubes, 1980, folio of three screenprints.
Busta sorpresa 7, 1990, works on paper from fourteen artists laid in an envelope.
Electronic Revolution, 1971, text by William Burroughs, drawings by Brion Gysin, designed and published by Chopin.
To be me, to be you, to stay here, to stay there, 1971, by William Burroughs, book and accompanying poster designed by Chopin.
OU 20/21, 23/24, 25/26, 28/31, 33, 34-37, 38-44, recordings contained on 4 CDs.
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.
I seek to achieve a real form of poetry, a poetry of spaces: written, audio and visual works
which I discovered and freely considered as starting points, nothing more and nothing less.
"A Void: Henri Chopin, Guy de Cointet, Channa Horwitz," Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, May 16-June 30, 2013, exhibition review in e-flux.
Henri Chopin biography and exhibition history, Supportico Lopez Gallery, Berlin.
"Henri Chopin at Supportico Lopez, Berlin" exhibition review, May 2, 2013.
Interview with Henri Chopin, April 3, 1972 (audio recording, in English).
"Henri Chopin: Poésie Sonore at Andreas Huber," Contemporary Art Daily review, December 20, 2010.
"Obituary: Henri Chopin: avant-garde pioneer of sound poetry," Frédéric Acquaviva, The Guardian, February 4, 2008.
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
Vertigo Du Vertige
Les Pirouettes Vocales Pour Les Pirouettements Vocaux
Les Souffles Des Tempêtes
La civilisation du papier (1975)
Extrême Tension (1974)
Définition des Lettres Suivantes (1975)
"Pêche de Nuit" (1957)
"Sol Air" (1961-64)
"Indicatif 1" (1962)
"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
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 Graphpoemesmachine (2006).
Henri Chopin at home.
Henri Chopin performs live at Espace Gantner, Bourogne, France, 20005.
Henri Chopin performs live at Colour out of Space, September 7, 2007.