Cooperstown, N.Y. 1986 (Photo by Jeffery Beach)

Notes on Claude Pélieu

“I can only shoot with buckshot on reflections.”
Undifferentiated bullshit cut up and made rare and strange, it belongs to a genre of phantom poetry like its author an ex junky Frenchman refuged in New York San Fran London his life cut up & his experience of states of consciousness, politics, police, sex & drugs now so confusing and fearful in every direction that he can only squeak apprehension of aluminum apocalypse with General Bridges falling down Atomic Fishways.
Genre of Rimbaud’s Villes & other prosepoetic electric illuminations, voice le Pélieu du temps des assassins up to date with the latest Franco-Prussian war rapes & dope games. I couldn’t assimilate all those cold scissors but their exact cut occasionally comes home. “Do you know that the Inca Civilization was destroyed in 3 hours? Savage repression at Berkeley.”
Poetry can cause social change by mixing words & images up so the beholder sees what’s in front of his eyes instead of trusting mass produced caption for sensible description. In that sense this “Language reveals the arbitrary” by mixing captions up in revolutionary order to present “Miss Vietnam’s raspberry covered sex “or” cops with snail-sexes”, or by articulating clear mind labels for “a shooting star drawn on the pavement”, or sometimes by suggesting no conceptual labels at all, leaving the mind free to observe “a dead man lording it at Police Headquarters”.

A. Ginsberg
Aug 23, 1970


Claude Pélieu: was born in 1934 in Beauchamp, Val D'Oise, France. The first of his many shows was at the famed Galerie du Haut Pavé, in Paris. While living the life of a young French artist in 1950's Paris, Claude continued to work and exhibit (at the Le Soleil dans la Tête, in Paris; the Galerie Alphonse Chave, in St. Paul de Vence. Although largely self taught, and greatly influenced by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters, Claude did deviate from the "bohemian norm" long enough to study under Fernand Léger.

In 1962, in Paris, Claude met Mary, and they soon departed for San Francisco: Mary had given Claude a copy of Allen Ginsberg's Reality Sandwiches, the two artists had corresponded with the Beat poet -- had shown him some of their work and Claude's poetry -- and, with poet/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti's encouragement, they left for America. In San Francisco the two quickly found themselves in the midst of the flourishing West Coast art scene, and struck up lifetime friendships and creative associations with Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg and Charles Plymell (poet and printer first volume (Vol. 0) of Zap Comics. Soon after, in 1965, they left for New York City where they lived and worked for a year, then returning to San Francisco until 1968 when they returned to Paris just as the events of May exploded across France.They returned briefly to San Francisco before moving to New York City, spending all of 1969 living at the Chelsea Hotel, where they became friends and worked with such writers and artists as William Burroughs, Ed Sanders, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Harry Smith,who would later live with them for a time when they decamped to upstate New York, to Cooperstown, in the 1980's.

Other travels followed (to England, France and back again to the US); other artistic collaborations flourished (with William Burroughs, Brion Gysin); and different mediums were explored (writing poetry - Pilote Automatique, published by City Lights; French translations of Burroughs and Ginsberg; illustration) -- yet throughout all this time Claude continued with his collages, exhibiting at various galleries in Paris and Caen; at the Mohammed Gallery in Genoa, Italy; at the Biennale de Sao Paolo in Brazil; the Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg in Paris; the Suzan Cooper Gallery in New York.

Claude and Mary wed in 1975, and finally settled in upstate New York -- first in Cooperstown, then in the nearby small town of Norwich. It was there that the two quietly lived and constantly worked. Claude always exploring, always experimenting, and always finding new ways to deconstruct and reinterpret the world that had forever been both his inspiration and provocation until, ill with cancer and diabetes, he passed away on December 24, 2002.