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French artist Ben, 88, dies by suicide after his wife's death

Nice: Renowned French artist Ben has died at the age of 88, taking his own life shortly after the tragic loss of his beloved wife, CNN reported, citing his family's statement.
The Vautier family confirmed the devastating news on Wednesday, revealing that Annie Vautier, Ben's wife, had succumbed to a stroke at 3 am that morning. Stricken with grief and unable to fathom life without her, Ben made the heart-wrenching decision to take his own life mere hours later at their residence in southern France.
In a statement shared on the family gallery's Facebook page, the Vautier family expressed the profound bond between Ben and Annie, noting, "Geniuses never stay alone."
Ben, born Benjamin Vautier in 1935, was celebrated for his whimsical yet thought-provoking contributions to modern art. His distinctive style often featured playful black-on-white slogans, penned in a childlike manner, which captivated audiences worldwide.
Beyond his renowned artistic endeavours, Ben was recognised for his performative art, which included the audacious act of signing everyday objects and the works of fellow artists, according to CNN.
Having spent his formative years traversing Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Egypt, Ben eventually settled in Nice in 1949, where he would leave an indelible mark on the art world. A self-taught artist, he embarked on his creative journey in the late 1950s, establishing a store in Nice that served not only as an exhibition space but also as a hub for artistic collaboration and discourse.
A luminary of the Fluxus movement during the 1960s, Ben embraced a playful and experimental approach to art, seeking to blur the lines between artistic expression and everyday life.
The news of Ben's passing prompted tributes from far and wide, including a poignant homage from the Elysee Palace, which hailed him as "one of France's most popular artists." The Palace reflected on Ben's enduring legacy, highlighting his ability to infuse everyday objects with "freedom and poetry."
Ben's artistic legacy transcends borders, with his works gracing esteemed institutions from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. A poignant recreation of his original shop, adorned with his iconic handwriting, stands as a testament to his creative spirit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, CNN reported.

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