La Vie d’Artiste

A panel discussion on the artist as object of appropriation by intellectual and popular discourse

14 Dec 2008
14 Dec 2008

At each moment of history groups emerge from society to cohere and structure different forms of singularity: the saint, the genius and the hero in the past, the missionary, the artist and the champion today. Vincent van Gogh is the best example of the notion of artistic singularity that 20th century society has had of the 19th century artist: a paradigmatic figure of a new model of the artist who would be turned into a popular symbol.


Screening of Basquiat (screenplay by Lech Majewski) at Smart -

The Van Gogh phenomenon has become a synonym for the legend of the artist, destined to be wrapped in a public affection nourished by a host of variables in the treatment, and also destined to be critically reviewed by the social sciences as well as art history and anthropology, which make values spontaneously perceived as absolute, timeless and universally relative.

The first and most obvious hypothesis concerning the cinematic representation of artistic gesture rests on Roland Barthes’ idea of the open existence of public figures who are the object of appropriation by intellectual and popular discourse. Just as the person and the life of the artist have been essayed by the biography, the character and emotions by exegesis of the pictures, the diagnosis of the illness by psychiatric and artistic studies, the existential anguish and the social criticism by literature, the motifs of images by modern philosophy… artistic gesture has been essayed by cinematic fiction.

Artistic gesture is taken from the artist’s legend and from that legend the representation of the gesture inherits and recreates given forms and commonplaces. The discussion ‘La Vie d’Artiste’ proposes to frame the broad territory of cinematic biography, the natural framework for representation of the artistic gesture, which includes everything from an exhaustive vision of an artist’s life or career, by way of slices of life —a few years, months or days— down to a life flash.

‘La Vie d’Artiste’ is organised in conjunction with the current exhibition Matthieu Laurette presents ARTISTS’ BIOPIC CINEMA that traverses all 6 gallery spaces at SPS which Laurette playfully described as “a sort of Institutional Critique meets Film Industry meets Art Sociology meets Art Economy meets Art History. Laurette has created a series of cinema spaces that continually screen 18 full-length feature films that represent the mythical characters of Andy Warhol, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali and other famous artists.

With Matthieu Laurette, Olav Velthuis, Chris Stolwijk, Ansje van Beusekom, Lech Majewski, Doris Berger and Eva Fotiadi.

At Smart Project Space, Auditorium – Level 1, from 14.00 - 18.00 hrs on Sunday 14 December. Free admission.