Tag Archives: John Giorno

Paris: John Giorno

John Giorno

Cahier d’Arts in Paris presents a series of prints of the works by New York artist John Giorno, as well as four new painting poems until the end of August.

Part of the New York underground scene in the mid sixties, John Giorno was the main actor in Andy Warhol’s first film ‘Sleep’ in 1963. He was also very close to the ‘beat’ movement and to William S. Burroughs. His main concern at the time was to make poetry accessible to popular culture.

In 1965, he founded Giorno Poetry Systems, a non-profit organization that started several musical groups and also became a label that published about forty albums. In 1968, he created Dial-a-Poem, a mass telephone service (in fact the first of its kind) that offered poems to the people who dialed the number and received millions of calls. Giorno has published a dozen collections of poems, as many albums, video works, and has given many performances since the past forty years.

A portfolio of recent works of the artist is illustrated in the last issue of the magazine Cahiers d’Art 2016-2017 and presented at the Palais de Tokyo.

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John Giorno Cahier D'arts
John Giorno Cahier D'arts

View the full set of pics here

John Giorno – Cahier D’Arts
Until end of August
14-15 rue du Dragon 75006 Paris


Release: Underground Does not Exist Anymore


Fresh from their return from their one year artistic residency at Villa Medici, Lek & Sowat present their latest book  ‘Underground Does not Exist Anymore‘ together with curator Hugo Vitrani. The book retraces the events between December 2012 and June 2014, where the two artists supported by curator Hugo Vitrani invaded the Palais de Tokyo through various official interventions, secret or ephemeral .

What started out as a mural on a peripheral space of the institution then evolved into an ambitious long-term project. We look back at the project in more details, as we’ve been keeping the secret for a very long time…

John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de TokyoJohn Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo     John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de TokyoJohn Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo     John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo

After a first collaboration with the American artist John Giorno ( see more here) Lek and Sowat were invited a second time to the Palais de Tokyo in December 2012 to paint on the walls of an emergency exit overlooking the technical premises of the museum. Rather than acting as a duo on the agreed space, the artists invited a dozen of graffiti artists including Dem189, Sambre, Wxyz, Katre, L’Outsider, Swiz, Rizot, Legz, Seth to join them and created an immersive installation by painting from the floor to the ceiling and began an urban exploration of the building.

Palais de Tokyo - ParisPalais de Tokyo - Paris    Palais de Tokyo - Paris      Palais de Tokyo - Paris     Lasco Project - Palais de Tokyo

In October 2013 with the complicity of the president of the Palais de Tokyo, Jean de Loisy, new spaces were made available and the project now titled ‘Lasco’ in tribute to the prehistorical cave paintings, the first wall paintings. Curator Hugo Vitrani with Lek and Sowat decided to pay tribute to French graffiti writers with individual dedicated spaces featuring Azyle, Bom.K, dran, Monsieur Qui, ….

In parallel to the authorized areas,  Lek and Sowat as well as invited artists like dran, Alëxone, Kan, Blo, Evol, Cleon Peterson  would also discreetly wander corridors, push doors, paint unofficially and create hidden or ephemeral installations,  illustrating the evanescent nature of graffiti and its ability to penetrate everywhere.

Palais de Tokyo - ParisLasco Project - Palais de Tokyo  Lasco Project - Palais de Tokyo  Lasco Project - Palais de Tokyo

The results can be seen within the video ‘Invisible Vandalism’.


Traces Directs / Direct Outlines

The book also features all the artists ephemeral interventions on a blackboard ( see our coverage here) from Philippe Baudelocque, Wxyz, Alëxone, Smo, L’Outsider, Sowat, Babs, Skki, Jay one, Tcheko, Apôtre, Kan, Seb174, Sambre, Nassyo, Popay (pictured below), Spé, Fléo, Lek, Dem189, Swiz to  Jacques Villeglé.


The short feature film Traces Directs is now part of the permanent collections of the Centre George Pompidou.


La Trappe 

Pushing their exploration of the building further and further, Lek and Sowat discovered a hatch leading to the ventilation lines underneath the Palais de Tokyo.

This is the epilogue of their artistic journey. Lek and Sowat adorned the narrowed and out of reach spaces with graffiti and with curator Hugo Vitrani invited legendary Mode2 and Futura to paint using ochre, black and white colours, reminiscent of the sacred prehistorical paintings in the Lascaux caves.   Large graffiti letters by Mode2  form the sentence  ‘Underground doesn’t exist anymore’.

Lasco Project - Palais de Tokyo                  Lasco Project - Palais de Tokyo Lasco Project - Palais de TokyoLasco Project - Palais de Tokyo     Lasco Project - Palais de TokyoLasco Project - Palais de TokyoLasco Project - Palais de Tokyo

View the full set of pics here

Due to the nature of the space and for security reasons, the Palais de Tokyo has now closed  the access to the hatch permanently. While these paintings will never be accessible to the public, they have been documented in the following video.

Underground Does not Exist Anymore by Lek &Sowat and Hugo Vitrani
ISBN: 978-2-91-917217-81-8
340 pages – Format 17 x 24 cm
Editions Manuella
€ 30 Available here

In parallel Le Palais de Tokyo just released a special issue  Palais Magazine #24 focussing on the urban interventions together with artist interviews from Andre, Azyle, dran, Craig Costello, Futura, Mode2 to Os Gemeos.


Palais Magazine # 24
ISBN: 978-2-84711-071-5
216 pages – Format 22.5 x 28.5 cm
€ 15 Available here


Paris: John Giorno x Lek x Sowat at Palais de Tokyo

John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo

For the  new season Imaginez l’imaginaire at the prestigious Parisian institution  Palais de Tokyo , Jean de Loisy and Akiko Miki invited  John Giorno , major figure of New York’s underground scene in the 60′s and of the Beat generation, to adorn four of the freshly renovated building’s walls with his poem paintings.

With the support of Hugo Vitrani, Giorno seized the occasion to confront two of his poem paintings ‘Just say no to family values‘ and ‘A hurricane in a drop of cum‘ to the work of graffiti artists Lek and Sowat, that he discovered through their Mausolee project (covered here), an illegal artistic residency that brought together 40 French graffiti writers in a 430,000 sq ft ruin.

John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo  John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo  John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de TokyoJohn Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo      John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de TokyoJohn Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo     John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo

Lek  and Sowat covered the walls with their signature style graffitis, on top John Giorno’s self adhesive vinyl letters, before pealing them off, thus revealing the american artist’s poems.

John Giorno x Lek X Sowat - Palais de Tokyo 

The artists then stashed the poem’s letters negatives to wheat paste them with the help of Dem189, on the river bank’s grey walls, opposite the Palais de Tokyo.


Pics by ButterflyHugo Vitrani and Thias

Imaginez L’imaginaire
Until 28 September 2013
Palais de Tokyo