Born in 1935 - France
Is everything art? A question which is tirelessly asked in History of art and by the artist, Ben. His real name Benjamin Vautier, born in Naples in 1934. His future will be built between Switzerland, Turkey and Egypt but also and mainly in France, as he moves to Nice.
He asks a lot of questions, mostly through his paintings. Famous for his written works, constantly affirming or questioning the world around us. In 1950, he opens a stall in Nice where he organizes exhibitions. This place quickly becomes a place for artists of the region to get together, who nourish the reflexion on art as a team.
Ben spends time with César, Martial Raysse and Arman. Together, they make up a group of artists and work on their quest for novelty and turn into the Ecole de Nice. They want to prolong the heritage of Marcel Duchamp and drive art into a corner, by walking on the footsteps of John Cage or the Dada movement.
Ben wrote his destiny in 1953 « Il faut manger, il faut dormir », with this simple and obvious paraphrase, he created his first "writing". To speak and question art in a better manner, he decides to write it down and put it in letters, through a visual writing. He initiates a step towards conceptual art, which isn't developed yet.
As a logical extension of his approach, Ben then focuses on the importance of the artist's signature in art. His first signature saw the light of the day in 1958. He just doesn't scribble on a piece of paper, no, he signs the world, everything on the move around him.
This way, his questions the concept of ego, of me, but also the idea of appropriation. These strong notions shake up the codes of art, just the way the artist wanted to. As for the art marker, Ben underlines the strength of the signature today, which is sometimes more important the art work itself.
It's going to be a tough task, making the world his but Ben doesn't give up. He signs in abundance, people in the streets, his friends, family and creates his first living sculptures in 1959. Through labeling his environment, Ben has the impression of linking life to art, and once again asks us if everything is possible in art and if everything makes up art.
The thought of appropriation goes through a lot of research until 1963. In the meantime, he joins the Fluxus group, which considers itself to be a non artistic movement and questions the status of the artist and the art work in society Games and humor predominates the group, and Ben's work will soon be influenced by this.
His handwritten punchlines in white with a black background resonate like true slogans. He doesn't hesitate to express on current events and makes his written word echo. A big fan of school, Ben multiplies derivatives and editions and signs on pencil boxes, bags and diaries. This way, he is able to register his art in a conceptual dimension, which is within reach for everyday.
SOLO SHOWS AND GROUP SHOWS
Exposition « Je ne suis pas fou », Galerie Liliane Vincy, Paris (France)
Exposition « Un autre Ben », Galerie Helenbeck, Nice (France)
Exposition « Je vois des têtes partout », Galerie Bertheas Les Tournesols, Vichy (France)
Exposition "Être", château de Malbrouck, Manderen (France)
Exposition "Ben signe Nice", Villa Arson, Nice (France)
Musée de Louviers, Eure (France)
Rétrospective Ben, Musée d'art contemporain, Lyon (France)
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