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Isidore Isou

"Isidore Isou, l’art à la lettre" (2016-2019)

Implemented further to the acquisition of Isidore Isou’s archives by the Musée national d’art moderne, the aim of this research project is to take stock of the extraordinary wealth of Isou’s theoretical and practical work, through various research phases.


It is based on the fundamentally multi-disciplinary aspect of Lettrism; as a compulsive writer and insatiable reader, Isou advocated creativity is all its forms. He established numerous theories related to visual arts, literature, experimental film and performance arts, in addition to political economics, mathematics, medicine and psychology.


A material and intellectual processing campaign has begun to enable the classification and description of Isidore Isou’s archives, stored at the Kandinsky Library. This involves the identification of archival items and the formalisation of a standard system to allow their indexing and supply databases. The analysis of these resources is being carried out thanks to the collaboration of the researchers, curators and archivists involved in this project.


The room devoted to Lettrism since 2015 at the Musée national d’art moderne enables an initial presentation of the archives, visible among the works of Isidore Isou, Gabriel Pomerand, Maurice Lemaître, Gil J. Wolman, Jean-Louis Brau or Roland Sabatier. 

This highpoint of this extensive task, the "Isidore Isou" exhibition opened at the Centre Pompidou in March 2019. Built around archives, it provides insight into the contribution of Lettrism to the history of art in the second half of the 20th century. It is accompanied by a multi-disciplinary scientific and cultural programme, combining conferences, screenings and performances.


A day of study, "Isidore Isou, initiation to the society of creators" took place in May 2019 and examined the role of Isou’s work in the recent social and cultural history of art, as well as gathering accounts by witnesses of Lettrism. This day of study was an opportunity to look back on the genuine laboratory of creation constituted by the vast body of Isou’s archives.

Scientific team

Project led in partnership with the LabEx Arts H2H, Paris 8, Paris-Nanterre 


Scientific heads: Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov and Stéphanie Rivoire 

Heads of research: 

  • Research engineers (IGR): Céline Famechon, Jacopo Galimberti and Marielle Pelissero 
  • Study engineer (IGE): Meixin Tambay