Henri Chopin

Sound poet, curator, critic and founder of the journal OU.

Henri Chopin is a key figure within experimental art and literature in the post-war years, as an artist and writer, but also as a highly active curator, editor, designer and publisher. In 1958, Chopin founded the review Cinquième Saison, which became OU in 1964 and ran until 1974. Over the course of its life, this journal brought together figures associated with Dada, Surrealism, Lettrisme, Fluxus and Beat Poetry, as well as innovators of Concrete Poetry – including Ian Hamilton Finlay.

Chopin was an advocate of interdisciplinary production and multi-sensory art, echoing Raoul Hausmann's view that "We are able to speak and write, because we hear with our eyes and we see with our ears." OU was notable for its inclusion of recordings of sound poetry–the area in which Chopin himself is probably most famous as an artist. This exhibition includes a number of Chopin's 'typewriter poems' from the 1960s and 70s, which reflect another key aspect of the artist's work: a fascination with the relationship between order and disorder, a preoccupation deeply rooted in his experience of war.

Henri Chopin was born in Paris in 1922. Deported to Germany in 1943, he spent periods in prison and in hiding before being repatriated, and subsequently enlisted as a solider. In the 1960s in Paris he worked as a radio and television producer, but he left after the failure of the uprisings of May 1968, and moving to England, settled in Essex. Chopin's solo exhibitions in the UK include Ceolfrith Arts Centre, Sunderland, 1972, Norwich Gallery, 1998, and Cubitt, London, 2008. Chopin died in 2008.

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