In October 1963 I met Gil J., and we schlepped to the scrap-metal market. [...] It was there that I came up with the following definition of Lettrism:
Lettrism: 1) technical definition: smithy, arsenal, place where unused weapons are stored; 2) volcanology: rumbling that announces certain volcanic eruptions. Examples: 1) “Thanks to L., insurgent groups were armed” – 2) “The people of Herculaneum did not pay heed to L.” [Acad.] —Jean-Louis Brau, 1972
The Lettrist movement is unique in the history of avant-garde formations. Founded by Isidore Isou in Paris immediately after World War II, it remains active to this day, having lost none of its radicalism, either aesthetic or ethical. In this book, Nicole Brenez presents the key figures and the basic concepts of Lettrist cinema, the art form within which their formal innovations proved the most far-reaching, prefiguring the breakthroughs of the nouvelle vague and the experiments of expanded cinema.
All the King’s Horses series, edited by Daniel Birnbaum and Kim West. Copublished with Moderna Museet, Stockholm, with support from Allianz Kulturstiftung
Translated from the French by Clodagh Kinsella. Design by Studio Christopher West