BEN : Tout est art ? – Is Everything Art?

This post is also available in: French

BEN Tout est art

BEN Tout est art

At the Maillol Museum until 17th January 2017

We all know the white on black writings by French/Swiss artist BEN, born Ben Vautier in 1935, in Naples. Some short, witty sentences which spread over almost every kind of supports.  From canvas to cardboards to pencil cases or schoolbooks, there is no escape! His graphic writings, childlike yet perfectly calibrated, are an integral part of our daily environment. However, do we actually know the universe of this artist with an ego as big as his wit? Probably not…

With this postulate in mind, the Maillol Museum is offering us a retrospective of Ben’s body of work, the first one in the French capital. Libertarian and autodidact, the artist resident of Nice purchased at the end of the 50’s, a small shop selling old records. An atypical store where BEN exhibited his own art works along with the ones of his friends. The Magasin (The shop) was born; a favourite hub for Nice artists who would soon form the renowned “School of Nice”.

The first writings made by BEN adorned the façade of the Magasin, attracting an important crowd. Nevertheless he did not hesitate to escape its walls to concentrate on art performances as absurd as hilarious. Capturing the power of words he seized the essential with a light and cheerful attitude, asking people on the streets, amongst other things: “Look at me, this is enough”.

… And it’s already quite a lot!

 

BEN 'Si Dieu est partout il est aussi dans cette boîte à chapeau', 1962

BEN ‘Si Dieu est partout il est aussi dans cette boîte à chapeau’, 1962

 

BEN 'L'amour c'est des mots' Huile sur toile, 1958.

BEN ‘L’amour c’est des mots’ Huile sur toile, 1958.

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