Born in Paris, in 1936, Jean-Jacques Lebel studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti, in Florence, where his first one man show took place - at the Galleria Numero - in 1955. Since, then, he has exhibited his work in many galleries and museums in Europe, in the USA and in Japan. During his stay in Italy, he also ran a magazine of poetry, art and politics - Front Unique - and authored the first European Happening (The Burial of Tinguely's Chose, I960, in Venice), before working with American Happening artists, Claes Oldenburg (1962) and Allan Kaprow (1963). Was involved in NO!art and took part in the Involvement Show and the Doom Show 1960/61 at March Gallery in New York. Since then, he has produced more than eighty Happenings, Direct Poetry actions or performances all over the world (ceasing to use the term “Happening” after the May 68 social and cultural upheaval in which he look an active part). In the sixties, at the American Center in Paris, he set up the Festival de la Libre Expression, an international exchange of experimental arts which, in the seventies, evolved into POLYPHONIX, a nomadic international festival and laboratory of Direct Poetry, in which more than 1500 artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers from tens of countries have performed, moving around from Paris to New York, from San Francisco to Budapest, from Brussels to Quebec, from Marseilles to Milan, from Barcelona to Cétinié (Montenegro). In 1967, he directed Picasso's prophetic play Desire Caught by the Tail..
While continuing to produce his own art works and actions, Jean-Jacques Lebel has published ten books of essays on culture and politics (the most recent one being Poésie Directe, Happenings and Interventions, Paris, 1994). He has taken part in most major International Poetry Festivals and Art Shows since the sixties. His translations of Ginsberg, Corso, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti were the first to appear in French. He ran, with Daniel Guerin, a series of re-editions of historical anarchist texts for the Paris Belfond publishing house..
Lebel contributed an eight meter high Monument to Felix Guattari (open-ended motorized multi-media desiring machine, including live performances and videos by poets, philosophers, musi-cians, anti-psychiatrists and artists close to Guattari and Lebel) to the 1994 Off Limits exhibition, at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris. Lebel's first major retrospective exhibition of paintings, drawings, collages and sculptures, sponsored by the Milano-based Mazzotta Foundation, started at the Vienna Museum Moderner Kunst, continued at the Budapest Museum of Modern Art and the Korn-westheim Stadtgalerie in 1998, at the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Naples Fondazione Morra in 1999, at the Milano Fondazione Mudima in 2000 and will continue traveling around Europe. It in-cludes a large installation entitled Reliquaire pour un Culte de Vénus already comprising more than one thousand images, objects and other components. This work in progresses transformed at and by each venue, according the context..
Lebel has also curated twenty (collective or monographical) international art shows, in various gal-leries and museums, amongst which Erro, Paysages (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1985); Victor Hugo, peintre (Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Ca' Pesaro, Venice, 1993); // Disegno del nostro secolo (Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta, Milano, 1994); Picabia, Maquinas y Espanolas (IVAM, Valencia, Fuindaciò Tapies, Barcelona, 1995); Picabia, 1922 (Musée National d'Art Mod-erne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1996); Juegos Surrealistas (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 1996); Victor Hugo, du Chaos dans le pinceau (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid and Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris, 2000); Picasso érotique (Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal, 2001)..
A 52 minute cinematographic essay on Lebel's life and work, entitled Le Cow-Boy et I'lndien, was filmed by Alain Fleischer and produced by Les Films d'Ici (Paris, 1994 ). The same filmmaker shot a second documentary video-movie in Vienna on Lebel's Museum Moderner Kunst exhibition in 1998, entitled Le Visiteur. The Centre Pompidou has produced a 90 minute video-film shot by Francois Pain on Lebel's Monument to Felix Guattari (Paris, 1995) including the performances by poets, musicians and philosophers.