‘Everything’s art’: Ben takes his own life hours after wife’s death

Ben, an artist known for his ironic slogan designs, has died at the age of 88, his family announced Wednesday, hours after his 60-year-old wife took her own life.

Rejecting the “protected structure of museums” and refusing to see art as the fruit of education and talent, Penn angered some in his own profession, who saw him as an opportunist and amateur.

His wife, Annie, suffered a stroke on Monday night and died on Wednesday, the couple’s two children, Eva and Francois, said in a statement.

“Unwilling to live without her, Ben committed suicide a few hours later in the French city of Nice”.

The pianist blew it

Born in Naples in 1935, Ben moved to Nice at the age of 14 and spent the rest of his life there.

He was associated with the Fluxus movement of the 1960s, which sought to subvert what was considered art, with a street-based provocative ironic style that was particularly influential.

“On our children’s pencil cases, on many everyday objects, even in our imaginations, Ben left his mark with freedom and poetry, lightness and shocking depth.”

“Everything is art,” he said, and instead of traditional works of art, he made “gestures”: he would stand at a gallery window and scream until he lost his voice, organize theater performances that never happened, or organize piano recitals. The pianist blasted it.

On the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, he would sign anything he wanted, saying it was his own work, on the bodies of passers-by or the works of other artists.

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“My art will be the art of appropriation. Trying to sign the unsigned. I believe art is in the thought and handwriting is enough,” he said with an ever-smiling smile.

“I’m not a money machine”

Ignoring “the protected structure of museums” and refusing to see art as the fruit of education and talent, Penn angered some in his own profession, who saw him as an opportunist and amateur.

But he insisted there was always a serious message behind the jokes. “I’m not a money machine, but a communication machine,” he said.

“What’s the use of art?”, “Is new always new?”, “What are you doing here?” He is best known for his witty sayings, usually drawn in white on a black background, in a childish script like

They gave him a place at the MoMA in New York and a wide copy of them – in school bags, notebooks or tram stops in Nice.

“In our children’s pencil cases, even in our imaginations, Ben left his mark, freedom and poetry, apparent lightness and shocking depth.” .

“The cultural world has lost a legend,” Culture Minister Rashida Dadi added, hailing the “goldsmith of language”.

*Barons | Caption photo: fondationlgp

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