Ben Vautier (b. 1935 in Naples, Italy, lives and works in Nice, France) is known for his paintings and textual performances. From 1958 to 1973, Vautier ran the second-hand record store, the “Laboratoire 23” in Nice, occasionally referred to as “Galerie Ben Doute de Tout” and in 1975, renamed “Le Magasine”. Though heralded as a store, it was mostly a meeting place and a center for the declaration of total art, filled to the brim with objects and Vautier's incisive cursive proclamations. The fundamental relationship between art and life—or rather, the firm and reiterating abolition of any conceptual barrier between the two—has always been at the heart of Vautier’s work. Since the late 1950s, Vautier’s paintings have focused on communication and writing. Unlike the Lettrists, Vautier does not present writing as a means of typographic experimentation but rather as an assertive vehicle of meaning and content. Vautier’s text works, marked by his fervid handwriting, make confrontational statements about society and aesthetics, the artist, and his ego. The same concept which intersects the witty exaltation of the artist’s role and the ready-made principle is at the heart of the so-called “Appropriations,” works from the early 1960s centered on the artist’s signature affixed to boards, photos, and even real people. Vautier’s works are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, among others.

Artworks (5)