Ben Vautier is an artist who has tried with all his power to shock and subvert the art world. Militancy in Fluxus, Appreciations, Performances, Deconstruction of the Language, Rigorously Italic Texts and Poems trace the faithful portrait of the renewal wind that crossed the art in the 1960s.
Ben Vautrier, or simply Ben, was born in Naples in 1935, but lived in Turkey, Egypt and Greece before finally reaching Nice in 1949. He did most disparate jobs, and began his artistic self-taught career. He was interested in the work by Marcel Duchamp and hung out with numerous artists.
It was the years of so-called Appropriations: to highlight the importance of signing with respect to the content of a work of art, Ben made his name the subject of a painting. He then signed objects, things of daily use, the city of Nice, a hole, and finally works by other artists. He used even his own body, exposing himself to Nice as a work of art, proclaiming that “to change the art you have to change man”.
In the early sixties he took part in the Fluxus movement, participating in their international festivals, performing public performances and embracing the anti-art attitude. It began the “truth” period, as in, paintings covered allover with writings such as poems or claims concerning art, artists, beliefs and feelings. Or simply, objective descriptions, such as when one of the paintings writes “canvas”.
To all this, the actions of his ego came alongside, like taking sleeping pills during their vernissage (and being present and absent at the same time).
The evolution of Ben, always in search of truth
In the 1980s he introduced into his works an ironic and grotesque figurative component. However, he never left the Fluxus spirit: he organized movement festivals, built the Thèatre total, performed performances with stubbornly provocative actions such as fixing the audience, creating a movie that insults the viewers, writed and published magazines.
In 1990 he was invited to the Venice Biennale, where he created an entire wall dedicated to Fluxus. Throughout the decade he has exhibited in France, Italy, England and Japan. Even today, his actions, performances, works continue to focus on the search for truth.