Self-portrait well done, badly done, not done by Robert Filliou

Self-portrait well done, badly done, not done by Robert Filliou
Self-portrait well done, badly done, not done by Robert Filliou

The French artist Robert Filliou (1926 – 1987) was above all an iconoclastic creator. A character who left us poetry, photos, videos, performances and also works as unique as this one from 1973 that can be seen at the Reina Sofía Art Center in Madrid.

The title already tells us what the work is about: Self-portrait well done, poorly done, not done. And it is that the word is one of the keys in the production of Filliou. An artist whose titles are very important or even his works are words or poetry that the spectators freely and randomly make up, like the time he exhibited several bicycle wheels in such a way that almost like a roulette wheel of fortune, those attending his exhibition went generating poetry.


Robert Filliou's Self-Portrait Well Done, Badly Done, Not Done

But let's go back to the work of the Madrid museum. The set is composed in the center of a photograph of the artist wearing a paper cap. And on its sides there is a wooden box that is empty and the back of a canvas with the inscription “artist's portrait” written in French.

The truth is that we do not know which is the well-done portrait or the bad one, and given the inscription, not even which one is not done. As a good representative of the anti-artistic and anti-market movement Fluxus, to which Maciunas and Joseph Beuys also belonged, Filliou played a lot withquestions about good artistic taste or the subject of authorship.

His mere photographic image with such a paper cap can be aligned with the icon of a puppet and false authority, and even with a madman. It is clear that he mocks the concept of the artist as teacher, and at the same time mocks the established approaches that distinguish between a well-made art and another that is poorly made. To which he adds unmade art, another category with which he poses the idea of ​​dematerializing art, forgetting the most traditional artistic supports and linking creation with performances.

Somehow this composite image can only be understood by knowing the artistic ideology of Filliou, which advocated Permanent Creation. He considered that art unfolded in any field and at any time, even in the simplest things. An approach that involved the renewal of art, criticism of the traditional, both in its forms and in its production and sale methods. That yes, behind all that attempt to blow up the concept of art as it was known, there was always an immense load of humor. Something that distills this emblematic work.

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