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Raymond Hains and Arman

LAST FALL, WITHIN A WEEK and across an ocean, the careers of two of the last living artists associated with what Pierre Restany in 1960 christened “le Nouveau Réalisme” came to an abrupt halt. Cancer claimed the seventy-six-year-old French-American sculptor Arman in New York on October 22, and self-proclaimed “citizen of the world” Raymond Hains died in Paris on October 28 at age seventy-eight. That the former’s death was mourned as the loss of a “tireless creator” by French President Jacques Chirac and the latter’s passing was lamented by the venerable office of the minister of culture not only suggests the artists’ centrality to French art after World War II, but perhaps also delineates the limits of their work’s critical impact on the institutions of postwar society.

Both artists’ practices took shape in the turmoil of the late ’40s. Arman, an only child born Armand Pierre Fernández to

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