Vautier Ben (1935)
Vautier Benjamin, French artist of Swiss origin, was born in Naples in 1935. After several trips between Turkey, Egypt and Greece, he moved to Nice, where he trained as a self-taught artist and, at the end of the Fifties, opened a small record store. In a short time, his store became a meeting place and exhibition space for the so-called École de Nice artists, including Cesar, Arman and Klein. Initially impressed by the movement of Noveau Réalisme, Vautier believed that art should cause a shock, an immediate impact. During the Sixties, inspired by Dadaism and Duchamp, he approached the Fluxus group, developing the concept of art as a creative act that borders on daily life and the theory of “everything is art.” Ben started to sign everything, including works by other artists, and he gave life to the living sculptures, signing on people from his friends and family to the strangers on the street. If the signatures are the emblem of ego exploration and the identity of the artist, the writings anticipate the idea of conceptual art, conveying messages on various issues and scenarios of current events, inspiring the public to be more conscious about life perspectives. Gestures and performance, which Vautier approached since the Sixties, are, in a Fluxus way, everyday actions that take different forms and meanings. Alongside the artistic activity, Vautier dedicated also to curating: in 1977, the Pompidou Centre promoted an exhibition on the École de Nice, A propos de Nice, entrusted Ben on the organization. A few years later, he also exhibited some young German artists, confirming its willingness to support the spread of contemporary art. Ben still lives and works on the hill of Saint Pancras, in Nice. His works are today found in major public and private collections around the world.