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FRANCE: French Artist Vautier Reportedly Died By Suicide Following Wife’s Death

French artist Benjamin Vautier has died by suicide aged 88, just hours after the death of his wife of 60 years according to Le Monde.

He died on June 5 hours after his wife Annie suffered a stroke and died+, the couple’s two children, Eva and François, said in a statement. “Unwilling and unable to live without her, Ben killed himself a few hours later at their home” in the French Mediterranean city of Nice.

Known for his ironic painted slogans, Ben was a significant figure in the 1960s Fluxus movement, which aimed to disrupt conventional art. 

On December 1, 2009, Ben posed with a work reading “I have nothing to explain to you” in front of his home in Nice.

Le Monde reported that Ben was born in Naples in 1935, moved to Nice at 14 where he lived out the rest of his life.

Ben’s artistic approach was characterized by a provocative irony that would later become highly influential. He famously declared, “Everything is art,” and instead of creating traditional artworks, he devised “gestures” like shouting in a gallery window until he lost his voice or organizing plays that never actually took place.

He also signed anything he pleased, including the bodies of passersby and other artists’ work, stating, “My art will be an art of appropriation… I believe that art is in the intention, and it is enough to sign.” 

By challenging the conventional boundaries of art and questioning the need for formal training and talent, Ben’s unconventional approach earned him both praise and criticism from his peers, with some viewing him as an opportunist or dilettante. 

Ben had left his mark, made of freedom and poetry, of apparent lightness and overwhelming depth,” stated French President Emmanuel Macron.