Art practices/Hypergraphy

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Hypergraphy or Super-writing is one of the Art practices developed by the Art movements of Lettrism and also the Situationism.

Spacetime ezulie flag libtheora

However it is also a way of looking at more recent paintings outside of these movements.

It is closely related to metagraphy - the difference being that metagraphy incorporates texts rather than letters - and in hypergraphy the letter is the dominant form.

This resource will collect some lesson outlines and exercises with which to explore hypergraphy.

Development of term


Hypergraphy is the term that Isidore Isou and the Lettrist movement would use to refer to their paintings which incorpoorated letters, symbols into representational and abstract compositions.

Lettrist hypergraphy and metagraphy

Metagraphics or post-writing, encompassing all the means of ideographic, lexical and phonetic notation, supplements the means of expression based on sound by adding a specifically plastic dimension, a visual facet which is irreducible and escapes oral labelling. . . .
Even from my first metagraphic efforts - because examples can be found in The Diaries of the Gods and then more conclusively in the self-portrait and painted photos of Amos - I had noticed that when held up among former 11 objective" or "non-objective" forms my original form was stronger, since it assimilates all the others.
Experiments on "the test of forms" demonstrate that the particles of the Letterist domain are stronger and more important than the particles of the figurative and non-figurative domains.
If one places an abstract composition - which is simply a fragmentary purification of the former object - in (or alongside) a figurative structure, this second composition digests the first one - transformed into a decorative motif - and then the whole work becomes figurative. However if one places a letterist notation on (or beside) a realist "form," it is the first one which assimilates the second to change the whole thing into a work of hypergraphics or super-writing.

From Les Champs de Force de la Peinture Lettriste ("The Force Fields of Letterist Painting") (Paris: Avant- Garde, 1964).

Situationist Worker


In The End of The Age of Divinity[1], A Situationist Worker outlines the following dimensions that are described by Hypergraphy:

  • 3 dimensions of space
  • 3 dimensions of time and
  • 3 dimensions of value

There is also the further outline of 6 senses where these "trimensions" are multiplied:

  • Sight : Hypergraphy
  • Sound : Hyperphony
  • Smell : Hyperchemy
  • Taste : Hyperlinguay
  • Touch : Hyperpathy
  • Thought : Hyperlogy

These aspects of hypergraphy have been developed by the psychic workers in Situography



To recreate Isou's test of forms we must distinguish between the following 3 forms:

  1. Abstract
  2. Figurative
  3. Lettrist

Abstract dominant

  1. Create an abstract picture. Add 1 figurative form in this
  2. Create an abstract picture. Add 1 lettrist form in this

Figurative dominant

  1. Create a figurative or realist picture. Add 1 abstract form
  2. Create a figurative or realist picture. Add 1 lettrist form

Lettrist dominant

  1. Create a lettrist picture. Add 1 abstract form
  2. Create a lettrist picture. Add 1 realist form

Lesson 2


Reading Hypergraphy

  1. Look at these examples of hypergraphy by Isou and Lemaitre
  2. Can you tell the story?

Writing in hypergraphy

  1. Take a story/ text
  2. re-write it without words - only letters

Artists using hypergraphy

Artist Movement Example
Isou Lettrism see
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré AKA Sheik Nadro
  • Le langage des symboles africains dans les musées (The Language of African Symbols in the Museum, 1975), Le calendrier du "monde noir" d'origine (Bété) (The Calendar of the "Black World" of [Bété] Origin, 1982), Le musée du visage africain (The Museum of the African Face, 1975), etc.


Rachid Koraïchi

See also



Here is an example from grammeS : by the Ultra Lettrists:

grammeS: Review of the Ultra-Lettriste GroupgrammeS: Revue du Groupe Ultra-Lettriste

also see