Excerpt from the notice for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, March 2015
Jean-Claude Guillaumon is a self-taught artist who became involved in the artistic life of Lyon in the 1960s. The emergence of new forms of art associated with the second avant-gardes was still very centralized at that time, and those regionally committed artists were somewhat pioneering.
First of all he decided to be a painter, before discovering happenings and environmental art at the 1964 Venice Biennale, where American Pop artists were well represented. He then turned to the French branch of the Fluxus tendency incarnated at the time by Robert Filliou in Paris, and Ben for the South of France. With a preference for happenings and all forms of ephemeral art supported by lines of thought opposed head-on to the consumer society, he took up the famous maxim “art is life” as his own. With a group of friends he thus organized many happenings in Lyon. [...] In the early 1970s, still seeking novelty, Guillaumon moved away from the happening form and the Fluxus movement whose arguments and methods were already well established. He then produced his first black and white photographs in which he presented his own body in often farcical situations. [...]
Translated by Simon Pleasance, 2015
After being involved with happenings and performances, I took up the camera to involve myself and not become anything other than a static, silent actor. From 1980 onwards, I increased my own imagery in photographic compositions, and played all the parts of the human species. Wit and derision, which are ubiquitous in that work, are the only ways of destroying the vainness of the representation of my own image: I thus play the part of the ordinary man, but also that of the artist, and his place in society, referring to the history of painting.