BEN

 

 

Ben, pseudonym of Benjamin Vautier, born July 18, 1935 in Naples, Italy, is a French artist of Swiss origin.

He became known to the public at the end of the 1960s, particularly through his “writings” in various media and forms. Part of the post-modern artistic avant-garde, Ben is one of the main founders of the Fluxus Group. He is an artist known for his performances, installations and writings.

 

Thus, universes as far removed from the artistic field as ethnism, ego or truth have entered his work. Ben enjoys an incredible popularity thanks to his “writings” that combine impertinence and accuracy of purpose.

Ben, whose real name is Benjamin Vautier, is a French artist of Swiss origin, born July 18, 1935, in Naples (Italy), from an Irish and Occitan mother and a French-speaking Swiss father. He is the grandson of Marc Louis Benjamin Vautier, a Swiss painter of the nineteenth century. He lives his first five years in Naples. After the declaration of the Second World War in 1939, Ben and his mother multiplied their travels: Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt, Italy…, to finally settle in Nice in 1949. He studied at the Imperial Park School and at the boarding school of the Stanislas College. His mother found him a job at the bookstore Le Nain bleu as an errand boy, then bought him a bookstore-paper shop. At the end of the 1950s, he sold it to open a small store, whose façade he transformed by accumulating many objects and in which he sold second-hand records.
Soon, his store became a place for meetings and exhibitions where the main members of what was to become the School of Nice met: César, Arman, Martial Raysse, etc. Close to Yves Klein and seduced by the New Realism, he was convinced that “art must be new and bring a shock”. In 1955, he discovered the shape of the banana and produced a series of drawings. This series marked the beginning of his graphic research. In 1959, he begins his “living sculptures”: he signs people in the street, his friends, and even his family. In 1965, he signs his own daughter, Eva Cunégonde, then three months old. At the beginning of the 1960s, several artists try to appropriate the world as a work of art. Ben will sign anything he finds: “holes, mystery boxes, kicks, God, chickens, etc.”. Ben will sign everything he finds: “holes, mystery boxes, kicks, God, chickens, etc.”, linking art and life, explaining that everything is art and that everything is possible in art. He joined the Fluxus movement in October 1962, following a meeting with George Maciunas in London. Between 1960 and 1963, he developed the notion of appropriation, of everything is art and everything is possible in art. He then began his series of “Tas”, heaping earth and waste on plots of land and signing them. In 1965, in his store, he creates a gallery of three by three meters in the mezzanine: “Ben doute de tout. He exhibits there Martial Raysse, Albert Chubac, Daniel Biga, Marcel Alocco, Bernar Venet, Serge Maccaferri, Serge III, Sarkis, Robert Filliou, Christian Boltanski, etc.”. In 1972, at the request of Harald Szeemann, he took part in Documenta V, where he met with Robert Filliou, Marcel Broodthaers, Giuseppe Chiari, Joseph Beuys, among others. In 1977, the group exhibition “About Nice” inaugurating the Centre Georges Pompidou was a kind of Parisian recognition of the research carried out and matured outside the capital, by the School of Nice. In the preface to the catalog, Pontus Hulten wrote: “Contemporary art would not have had the same history without the activities and encounters that took place in the Nice region”. He entrusted the preparation of the event to Ben. At the beginning of the 1980s, on returning from a year spent in Berlin at the DAAD, thanks to a scholarship, he met young artists: Salomé, Luciano Castelli, Helmut Middendorf and members of the German Violent Painting. On his return to Nice, he organizes with Marc Sanchez an exhibition-exchange between what he calls the French Figuration libre and young German painters. Robert Combas and Hervé Di Rosa, Robert Combas and Hervé Di Rosa are then exhibited in his house in Saint Pancrace, and François Boisrond and Rémi Blanchard, among others, at La galerie de la Marine in Nice. Very involved in the contemporary scene, he has always supported young artists and gives his point of view on all current events, whether cultural, political, anthropological or artistic, in his regular and prolific newsletters. He has been living and working since 1975 on the heights of Saint-Pancrace, a hill in Nice. Ben’s works are found in the world’s largest private and public collections, including the MoMA in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna, the MUHKA in Antwerp, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Solothurn Museum, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nice, the M. A.C. of Marseille, the M.A.C. of Lyon. Married with Annie Baricalla since 1964, he has two children, Éva Cunégonde and François Malabar.

 

In the post-duchampian context, and influenced by John Cage, George Maciunas, Dada and Isidore Isou, asking the question “What to do after Duchamp”, Ben chose the whole world as his studio. From 1963 to 1967, Ben wrote ten concept films. The first one was a poster statement stuck on the walls of Nice and Cannes at the time of the Cannes Film Festival.

 

The Writings: His first painting of words seems to be “Il faut manger. You have to sleep. ” from 1953, a simple affirmation of life. However, this simplicity conveys a strong concept: Ben produces an art of the idea, long before the beginning of conceptual art as defined in most specialized books. At that time Ben was looking for new art forms, to talk about art and the art world. He then developed through his writings numerous and varied themes (ego, doubt, death, sex, the new, money…). The sentences that Ben writes can be truths, comments (on the world, current events), scenarios, invectives (to the public, to the art world), observations… Appearing suddenly in the visual field of the spectator, they bring a smile, and often give food for thought.
The signature: He started signing in 1958: paintings, people, photos. Ben thought that if art is only a question of signature, then why not make a painting with just his own signature. Working on the concepts of self, ego and artist identity, Ben, “seems to say that since art is synonymous with the artist’s signature to the public, the more visible it is, the more the public will want that work. {…} At the same time, Ben talks about the ego/ego and the importance of self-reference in art, the exploration of the self and the ego – both subjectively and as a subject. “His 1960 manifesto “I Ben I Sign” shows the radicality of his approach.
Gestures / Actions: Down to earth, Ben’s gestures are similar to George Brecht’s “events”. They are also called “actions”. His first gestures date back to 1960, theorized within the framework of what he calls “appropriations”. Initially little documented, they are then photographed and titled, usually on a black support, with a succinct description. These gestures show small actions, a priori banal, daily, not very spectacular, that Ben puts forward, in a Fluxus spirit.
The performance “Life never stops” is one of Ben’s phrases. Reenacting the codes of happenings and performances developed in the United States in the 1950s (Black Mountain College, Allan Kaprow), Ben mixes life and art from the 1960s to produce performances called “Vomir”, “Hurler”, or “Dire la vérité”, which he performs near his store on rue Tonduti de l’Escarène or in the streets of Nice, whether or not he warns the public.

In 2010 Ben creates in Nice in the center of the Libération district the “Espace à débattre”.  A place that came to life through many events.

 

Three years later Ben proposes this place to his daughter Eva who sets up the gallery Eva Vautier. She produces many exhibitions, performances, debates, bringing together citizens from all walks of life, helping to defend these artists and contemporary art and creates a real dynamic contributing to give a new breath to the local artistic life.

2016, The story goes on…

Ben Vautier

born in 1935, in Naples
Lives and works in Nice

 

PERSONAL EXHIBITIONS (selection)

1960 Ben expose Rien et Tout Laboratoire 32 Nice
1960 Ben expose Rien et Tout Laboratoire 32 Nice
1966 La Cédille qui Sourit, Villefranche Expo rétrospective
1970 Galerie de La Salle, Vence Quelques idées et gestes de Ben
1970 Galerie Daniel Templon Paris, Tout et Rien
1970 Galerie Yelow, Bruxelles
1971 “ Ecritures de 58 à 66 “ Galerie Daniel Templon Paris Exposition personnelle 1972 “ Gestes “ Galerie Daniel Templon Paris/Milan
1972 Galerie Lia Rumma, Naples
1972 I.C.C. Anvers, (Actions et gestes)
1973 “ La déconstruction “ Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
1973 Art = Ben Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1974 Neue gallery, Aix la Chapelle
1974 Galerie Yelow Now, Liège
1975 Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
1975 Galerie Gibson, New York
1975 “Essayer d’être naturel” Incontri Internazionali d’Arte, Roma
1975 Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris
1976 Kunstwerein, Bremen
1976 Galerie de La Salle, Saint Paul
1977 L’art c’est les autres, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris
1979 DAAD, Berlin
1980 Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
1980 Galerie Marika Malacorda, Genève
1980 Musée d’art comptemporain, Montréal
1981 Galerie Catherine Issert, Saint Paul
1981 Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Saint Etienne (Ben libre et fou)
1982 Galerie Castelli Graphiks, New York
1982 Galerie Unimédia, Gênes (Les Malouines)
1983 Galerie Beaubourg, Paris (Les portraits)
1983 “ les écritures ” Galerie Daniel Templon Paris
1983 Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris (boîtes et idées)
1985 ‘ Tout Ben ‘ G.A.C. à la Marine Nice
1985 Stadt Gallery, Erlangen
1986 Salla Parpalo, Valencia
1986 Galerie Pierre Huber, Genève (Banco)
1986 Galerie Catherine Issert, Saint Paul de Vence
1986 Galerie Shuppenhauer, Essen (Allemagne) (Proust)
1986 Galerie Unimédia, Gênes (Cirque Culturel)
1986 FRAC Pas de Calais
1986 Galerie Emily Harvey, New York
1987 Galerie Camomille, Bruxelles (Les Miroirs)
1987 FRAC Calais expo des acquisitions
1987 Musée de Valence, (expo conférence débat) 1987 Musée de Céret, Céret
1987 Labège Innopole, Toulouse Ben de A à Z
1987 M.U.K.H.A. Anvers
1988 Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
1988 Galerie Catherine Issert (4 expos différentes dans I mois)
1988 C.C.C. Tours (avec édition Jungle de l’Art)
1991 “ Une histoire de cul ” Galerie Daniel Templon Paris
1991 Frac Orléans Je doute donc je suis (sculpture pour Descartes)
1991 Galerie Malacorda, Genève “Pas d’art sans détail”
1991 Fondation Mudima, Milan
1991 “7 ans de bonheur”Galerie Camomille, Bruxelles
1991 Galerie Emily Harvey, New York
1991 Centre Pompidou, Le Forum des Questions de Ben
1991 “Je sais j’en fais toujours trop” Galerie Marianne et Pierre Nahon, Paris
1992 “J’ai plus de place à la maison” Galerie Le Chanjour, Nice
1992 ” Basta! ” Galerie La Marge, Ajaccio
1992 Galerie Bugno et Samuelli Venise, L’arte e sempre altrove”
1992 Galerie d’Art Contemporain, Saint Ravy Demangel, Montpellier
1992 ” Il faut se méfier des mots ” Galerie Catherine Issert, Saint Paul
1992 ” I dont want to do art I want..”Galerie Shupenhauer, Cologne, Exposition personnelle
1992 Centre d’Art et de Plaisanterie, Montbéliard
1992 ” La Suisse n’existe pas” Galerie Rosalp, Verbier Suisse
1993 “Je suis vivant je suis à Nice” M.A.M.A.C., Nice
1993 “Je ne sais pas peindre” Galerie Guy Pieters, Knokke Zoute
1994 “A bas la culture” Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
1995 “Ben, Pour ou Contre” Rétrospective M.A.C., Marseille
1996 Musée de Solothurn, Suisse
1999 ” Vie et mort ” Galerie Charlotte Moser, Genève
2000 Galerie 1900-2000 show Fiac, Paris
2000 ” La pagaille gagne du terrain ” Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris Exposition
2001 “Je cherche la vérité ” M.A.M.A.C., Nice
2001 ” Ist das nicht wichtig ” Musée de Schwerin, Allemagne
2002 ” J’aurais aimé être un cactus ” Galerie C. Gualco, Gènes
2002 National Museum of contemporary art, Korea Seoul Exposition personnelle 2002 ” La chambre du philosophe ” Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris
2002 ” Tout est musique ” Galerie Kahn, Strasbourg
2003 ” Mon psy et moi ” Galerie Charlotte Moser, Genève Exposition personnelle b ” Je suis en guerre ” Galerie Rive Gauche,strouk Paris
2003 Ben biz’art bazart, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
2003 ” Difficile d’être un autre ” Centre d’Arts Plastiques, Saint Fons
2004 ” Le monde change ” Arsenal, Metz
2004 ” La partie cachée de l’Iceberg ” Galerie Catherine Issert, Saint paul
2005 ” L’art est mort vive l’art ” Studio Marco Fioretti, Bergamo
2005 ” Bientôt on ne pourra plus arrêter la machine” Galerie Jean Brolly, Paris 2005 Musée Chagall, Nice
2005 “Je suis un sex maniac ” Galerie Storme, Lille
2006 ” Io dubito sempre ” Galerie Soave, Alessandria
2006 ” Les limites de la photo ” Musée André Villers, Mougins
2006 ” Je me noie ” Galerie Kahn, Ile de Ré
2006 ” Je suis nul en céramique ” Musée de la poterie, Vallauris
2006 ” Les autres ” Galerie Marlborough, Monaco
2007 ” Tutto e competizione ” JZ art trading, Milano
2007 ” je n’arrive pas à m’arrêter ” Galerie Guy Pieters, Knokke
2007 ” Tutto è ego ” Studio d’Arte Fioretti, Bergamo
2008 ” Gegen kunst ” Galerie Schuppenhauer, koln
2008 ” Quien es Ben ? ” Retrospective Musee Vostel, Malpartida
2009 ” Ils se sont tous suicidés” Galerie Templon Paris
2009 ” La Baule privilège “Galerie Marcel Billy, La Baule
2010 Retrospective “Strip Tease intégral” Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon
2010 ” L’art contemporain me fait rire “Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris
2010 ” Takes art as it comes” Galerie Shuppenhauer, Cologne
2010 ” J’ai encore quelque chose à dire “Galerie Les Tournesols, Saint Etienne 2010 ” Paniquez pas .. ” Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Bruxelles
2010 ” 100% EN OCCITAN ” Galerie Sollertis , Toulouse
2011 ” Pas de rose sans épines ” Galerie Rive Gauche, Paris Marcel Strouk
2011 ” Et après ça ? ” Musée de Louviers, Louviers
2011 ” Ben Vautier ” ART BORES ME Galerie Vicky David, New York
2012 “Etre ” Château de Malbrouck,Manderen en Moselle
2012 “ La liberte de …. “ Galerie Catherine Issert, Saint Paul
2012 “ Je ne suis pas fou “ Galerie Lara Vincy, paris
2013 “ Le trou noir de l’ego “ Médiathèque François Mitterrand, Argentan ( onfrey )i  2013 “ Un autre Ben que … “ Galerie Helenbeck, Nice
2014 “ La théorie de l’ego “ Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
2014 “ Life is a game “ Galerie Laurent Strouk, Paris

2015

 

COLLECTIVE EXHIBITIONS (selection)

1962 Misfits Fair, Galerie One Londres
1966 Galerie A, Nice, Le litre de vin rouge supérieur
1971 Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris Ecritures
1972 Musée de Luzerne Ben, Boltanski, Le Gac, Fernie
1972 Guggenheim Museum New York
1972 Documenta V, Kassel (Harald Szeemann)
1977 A propos de Nice, Centre Pompidou, Paris (organisée par Ben)
1982 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (L’armoire)
1987 Galerie Daan, Amsterdam
1988 Ludwig Museum, Cologne
1989 Frac Provence Cote d’Azur, Fondation Maeght
1989 Musée d’art contemporain, Brisbane
1989 L’art en France Centre Pompidou, Paris
1990 Biennale de Venise, section Fluxus
1990 Biennale de Sydney, Sydney
1990 Galerie Littmann, Bale
1991 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Peter Stuyvesant
1992 Exposition Universelle Séville, Pavillon Suisse
1992 Manifeste au centre George Pompidou, Paris
1993 In the spirit of Fluxus, Walker Museum, Minneapolis
1995 Beyong switzerland musée d’art de Honk Hong
1996 Musée d’art moderne de Pragues, Fluxus
1997 1977-1997 Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
2000 Centre Pompidou, re-ouverture
2002 Shopping Art, Tate, Liverpool (Le Bazar biz’art)
2003 Musée de l’Objet , Blois
2003 Cabinet des Manipulations, Venise Palais Zénobio
2004 “son et lumière” Centre Pompidou, Paris
2005 40ème anniversaire de Fluxus, Nurenberg
2006 Le Tas d’esprits, Paris Galerie Seine 51, Lara Vincy, Rive Gauche, Christine Phal
2008 ” J’aime rire ” Galerie Gualco Unimediamodern, Gene
2009 ” Soudain l’été Fluxus”, Passage de Retz, Paris
2010 ” On verra bien” Fluxus à Moscou
2011 ” Le temps de l’action ” Villa Arson, Nice
2011 Expo vieIlles affiches Moma New York
2012 “ Ben signe Nice “ Performance Ring Villa Arson, Nice
2013 Fondation du doute inauguration, Blois

 

Museums and Public Collections

Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou Paris (France)
Museum of Modern Art New York USA
Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (France)
Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon M.A.C. Lyon (France)
Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain de Nice MAMAC (France)
Musée d’art contemporain de Marseille (France)
Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne (MAC/VAL) Vitry-sur-Seine (France)
Musée d’art moderne de Céret (France)
Musée d’art et d’industrie de Saint-Étienne (France)
Musée Picasso (Antibes) (France)
Musée national des Douanes Bordeaux (France)
Maison européenne de la photographie Paris (France)
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain Paris (France)
Musée de l’Objet. Installation permanente “Le Mur des Mots” Blois (France)
La Fondation du Doute Blois (France)
Musée Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Pays-Bas)
Musée Staatliches Museum, Schwerin (Allemagne)
Musée Magritte, Bruxelles (Belgique)
Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genève (Suisse)
Musée d’Art Contemporain MuKHA Anvers (Belgique)
Musée Ludwig Cologne (Allemagne)
Musée Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Vaduz (Lichteinstein)
Musée Kunstmuseum Lucerne (Suisse)
Musée Tinguely Bâle (Suisse) retrospective en 2016 “ist alles kunst ?” [archive]
Musée Maillol Paris (France). Exposition “tout est art” septembre 2016
Musée Für Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt (Allemagne)
Musée d’Art Moderne Kampa Pragues (République Tchèque)
Musée Walker Art Center Minneapolis USA
Musée Vostell Malpartida Caceres (Espagne)
Fondation MUDIMA Milano (Italie)
FRAC Région Rhône-Alpes
FRAC Région PACA
FRAC Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais
FRAC Région Languedoc-Roussillon
FNAC Paris (France)
Faculté de Médecine Nice (France)

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Le Bizart Baz’art

 

 

Produced for the exhibition “Shopping: a Century of Art and Consumer Culture” at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and the Tate Modern in Liverpool in 2002.

The Bizart Baz’art is a construction on a human scale; a hut in which the spectator is invited to enter. Decorated with objects, toys, slogans, pictures, images, words, symbols, the hut is in fact conceived as a “meeting place for secret services”, where agents would come to do their business.
Ben’s idea was to propose a gigantic installation on the theme of the unsaleable. But as I was looking for the unsaleable,” he explains, “I realized that the company’s shredding machine could swallow it all and sell it all. So I called it “everything is merchandise because everything is art, there’s no escape.

The profusion, the disorder of objects and words, blurring the legibility of each detail paradoxically gives meaning to the whole by showing a world saturated, cluttered, suffocated with objects. The title of the work, Le Bizart Baz’art, through a play on words with the word “art”, leads us towards a questioning of art. The questioning is fuelled by the inscriptions contained in the work. On the edge of a hollowed-out, perforated canvas, one can read for example “There was art here. There is no more art. Is it art too ? ». The artist wonders about the fragile limits between art and non-art, between art and life, art and poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Etrangement l’œuvre de Ben évoque à la fois Arman par l’accumulation des objets et Yves Klein par les vides qu’elle encadre. Si l’œuvre de Ben semble faire allusion au Nouveau Réalisme, elle s’inscrit principalement dans l’héritage de Fluxus, groupement informel auquel Ben participa dans les années 60. Il n’y a qu’à lire l’inscription « les musée ne servent à rien, rentrez chez vous » pour flirter avec l’affirmation d’un art qui se mêle à la vie, en dehors des musées, et toucher à l’humour et l’insolence propre à Fluxus.

La place même de l’œuvre, dans le hall du musée, entre l’intérieur et l’extérieur, est révélatrice de la position de Ben dont on connaît à la fois les œuvres exposées dans les musées et les produits dérivés, cartables, trousses, agendas et t­shirts vendus dans les supermarchés. Depuis toujours l’artiste cherche à défaire les frontières entre l’art et la vie.

 

The CIC Lyonnaise de Banque exhibits Bizart Baz’art by the artist Ben.

 

Official sponsor of the 14th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, the CIC Lyonnaise de Banque exhibits in its atrium the iconic work Bizart Baz’art by the artist Ben until December 8, 2017. This work represents a hut gathering hundreds of everyday objects and symbolizing the consumer society. We also discover statements written in the form of short sentences, with the characteristic writing of the artist, on the theme of art and its commodification. Discover the accelerated montage of this work.

 

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The Eva Vautier Gallery gives carte blanche to Ben

March 1 to August 31, 2016

carte blanche


À une année lumière

Exhibition from January 17 to February 21, 2015

Capture d’écran 2015-01-10 à 16.23.06

Authenticity certificate

 

You have acquired a work by Ben Vautier?

You want to obtain a certificate of authenticity for the work?

To obtain a certificate you must:

 

-Provide two photographs (back and front) of good quality of the artwork, and the description of the artwork via the form below:

 

-Pay a sum of 350 €, after reception of the photos.  (by check, bank transfer, or via internet)

Request form for Certificate of Authenticity:

    The gallery Eva Vautier is the only one authorized to issue a certificate of authenticity from Ben Vautier.