Guy Debord

  • Born 1931 in Paris, France
  • Died 1994 in near Bellevue-la-Montagne, France
The revolutionary movement Situationist International (SI), comprised of artists and theorists, hinged on the collaboration between Guy Debord and Asger Jorn from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. Jorn participated in Marxist political activity and avant-garde movements in his youth, co-founding CoBrA, a collective that strove for total artistic freedom, in the late 1940s. Jorn and Debord, a French Marxist intellectual, became friends in 1954, and SI was established in 1957 in Alba, Italy, with Debord as its leader. The group decried the theory of “industrial,” mass-produced art and commodity fetishism, as in their interruption of an international critics’ meeting in 1958 during the Brussels World’s Fair. As SI activists redirected their attention from art to a general critique of capitalist culture, Jorn left the group in 1961 and founded the nonprofit Skandinavisk Institut for sammenlignende vandalisme (Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism). In 1964 Jorn received a Guggenheim Award and publicly declined it via an eviscerating telegram. Debord’s book La Société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) (1967), considered a foundational text to the May 1968 Paris uprising, critiqued capitalist culture, whereby the consumption of images replaced authentic human interaction. In 1972 the SI dissolved its operations in 1972.

Artworks by Guy Debord in the exhibition