Death of Artist Ben: Nice in Shock

Last Updated on June 16, 2024 by Allison Coe

Front page of the Nice-Matin announcing the death of Ben VautierUpdate:  The city held a huge memorial with the two caskets right in the middle of the Promenade du Paillon gardens (!) backed by a big screen with photos and memories.  Over 1400 people showed up to pay their respects, including a who’s who of the local art world.  Following the public tribute, a private ceremony was held before the cremation.

Few artists incarnate the absurdity and optimism of life as Ben, a true original that painted with his words.  A world-renown wordsmith with an unmistakable French grammar school scrawl, it was in Nice that he made his home, and where he left his biggest mark.

Ben’s pithy French sayings are posted at every tram stop in Nice, not to mention popping up in unexpected places like on wine bottles (La Jaja de Jou), restaurants (Bar des Oiseaux), hotel rooms (Windsor Art Hotel ‘Ben’ room, #65), and even crowning a public toilet (“I piss, therefore I am” just below the Opera tram stop).

He was instrumental in the birth of the modern art movement which defines Nice (L’Ecole de Nice), and his whimsical work is featured not only in museums, but he printed his platitudes on almost anything to create an ironic pairing, and his ramblings soon started showing up in trendy French-leaning boutiques world wide, and of course online.

Late last Monday night, Annie Vautier, Ben’s wife of 60 years and inseparable companion, suffered a massive stroke and died shortly thereafter Wednesday morning at 3am.  A few hours later, unable and unwilling to live without her, Ben wrote his final act, taking his own life at his home in Nice, to join his beloved Annie in eternity.  Ben Vautier was 88.

Read more here from The Guardian

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