[Luxus Magazine] Ben, art and the written word

He was a household name. The artist Ben, Ben Vautier, took his own life on Wednesday 5 June, a few hours after the death of his wife. A look back at the life of a man whose writing is familiar to us all.


On 5 June, the world of the arts was shocked to learn of the death of one of its great figures. A few hours after the death of his wife, Ben Vautier, aged 88, decided to join her, “not wanting to and not being able to live without her”, according to the official family statement. “Ben and Annie were like one. There was no one without the other,” said Robert Roux, a close friend of the couple and deputy mayor of Nice responsible for culture. “She would occasionally correct him for his excesses, he would always tease her and you couldn’t see Ben without Annie and vice versa. It’s a crazy example of a truly amazing love”.


On Thursday 13 June, a tribute was paid to the couple who shared 60 years of their lives. The ceremony took place at 10.30am in Nice, their home town, on the water mirror of the Promenade du Paillon. It was an opportunity to celebrate the post-modern artist who belonged to the Fluxus artistic movement and was known for his simple yet meaningful writings.




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Creator of life, creator of art


Born in Naples in 1935 to an Irish-Occitan mother and a French-Swiss father, Ben Vautier experienced life very quickly. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, little Ben travelled to Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt and Italy, before returning to France, in Nice, ten years later.


The young man, great-grandson of the painter Marc Louis Benjamin Vautier, studied at the Parc-Impérial school and the Collège Stanislas boarding school. His mother found him a job in the bookshop Le Nain bleu. It was an opportunity for him to experience all the activities associated with the literary establishment and to form his own vision of art. Later, his mother bought him a bookshop and stationery shop, which he sold at the end of the 50s to buy a shop that he renovated to sell records. At the same time, he began a series of drawings, then living sculptures, putting his signature on passers-by, friends and family!


Ben Vautier transformed his shop into a meeting place and exhibition space, allowing everyone to exchange ideas and display their work. Over time, the address brought together members of the École de Nice (such as César, Arman and Martial Raysse) as well as artists from the Nice region. In 1959, Ben founded the newspaper Ben Dieu, and in 1960 he organised his first solo exhibition, Rien et tout Laboratoire 32.


Click here to read the full article on Luxus Magazine.

Featured photo : Ben Vautier © Fondation Linda et Guy Pieters.

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Pauline Duvieu
Fashion, hotels, gastronomy, jewelry, beauty, design... Pauline Duvieu is a journalist specializing in luxury and the art of living. Passionate about the high-end spheres that arouse emotion, she loves to describe the creations of the houses and tell the stories of the talents she meets.

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