Sans titre (Gagarine se tue en avion), 1968

Untitled (Gagarine Kills Himself in an Airplane), 1968
Collage, 162 x 97 cm

In 1952 Wolman abandoned the Letterist movement of Isidore Isou and founded the Letterist International with Guy Debord (who would later form the Situationist International, though Wolman would not take part in this group). During the fifties, Debord and Wolman collaborated on a number of projects. Among these collaborations, the essay they wrote together in 1956 – Mode d’emploi du détournement (A User’s Guide to Détournement) – stands out. The technique of détournement can be summarised as the use and recombination of available cultural items such as phrases, parts of books, images, film footage or soundtracks to create a new work with a different message, often one opposed to the original. Wolman then used this principle for his own writings from pre-existing texts, which he published that same year with the title J'écris proper.

In 1957 Wolman was excluded from the Letterist International, initiating a far more pictorial phase, using paints, waxes and papier-mâché on which he wrote and added graffiti. The sixties proved to be Wolman’s most productive period and in 1964 he began what he referred to as Scotch Art. His Scotch Art consisted of a process in which he used adhesive tape to tear off bands of printed matter and to reposition them in multilayered lines on different supports such as canvas or wood. Fusing principles of Letterism and of the technique of détournement, the works consist only of texts and tape. He both appropriates text, using the principle of détournement, yet hardly allows for a reading of the events of which it makes reference, as in the principle of Letterism, where words or letters fill the pictorial field while renouncing their meaning.

Technical details

Original title:
Sans titre (Gagarine se tue en avion)
Registration number:
Wolman, Gil Joseph
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
Object type:
Collage on canvas
162 x 97 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
© Gil J Wolman Archives, Paris
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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