Ben Vautier

Ben Vautier (France, 1935) is a French artist known for his text-based paintings, such as L’art est inutile. Rentrez chez vous (Art is Useless. Go Home, 1971). Vautier’s Fluxus works circled around defining art as a practice that unifies life, objects, and philosophy. “What is culture? Culture is a fairytale that we have created. It can be manipulative,”he has explained. “The purpose of culture is to amuse poor people and rich people alike.”

Born Benjamin Vautier on July 18, 1935 in Naples, Italy, he moved with his mother to the South of France in 1949. In 1958, Vautier left his job at a book store and opened a stationary and record store. He ran Laboratory 32 (Le Magasin), from 1958 to 1973, creating a salon-like meeting place for people to discuss new ideas. During this time, Vautier met Yves Klein, John Cage, and George Macunias, becoming involved in the early stages of the Fluxus art movement. The artist continued producing work surrounding everyday life over the following decades, while also working as an advocate for minority rights in France. He continues to live and work in Nice, France.

Today, Vautier’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, among others.