Founded in Saint-Étienne in 2006 by François Ceysson and Loic Bénétière, subsequently joined by Bernard Ceysson, artistic advisor, the Ceysson & Bénétière gallery initially expanded its presence in French-speaking Europe: Luxembourg, Paris and then Geneva. In Luxembourg, besides the space in Luxembourg city, the gallery now has another vast space at Wandhaff /Windhof near Koerich, measuring 1400 m2 and with more than 1200 m2 devoted solely to exhibitions.
Multiplying exhibition spaces is for us neither an obsession nor a goal in itself. It is simply a matter of better serving our collectors whose trust in us is greatly appreciated. Within the context in which artistic creation develops and spreads nowadays, it is also a matter of showing to best effect the artists we have decided to promote because we are convinced of their talent and, for some of them - the exponents of the Supports/Surfaces movement - because of their historical importance.
The artists we can bring together under the somewhat reductive - so singular and exceptional are their works - yet so convenient term of "Supports/Surfaces movement", have without doubt constituted the ultimate vanguard of modernity. But they have also paved the way for subsequent generations of artists who, thanks to them, have been able to reject the sterile game of an endless repetition of the "last picture" and so revive an art able to affirm that these are not merely "attitudes" able to generate forms, fables and figures.
Art is a means and an object of knowledge. It helps us to be in the world and to think. This is what these artists have expressed in and through their works. This is what the younger American and French artists employ and we are proud to present their works. They are paving the way out of postmodernity, out of the contemporary understood as an avatar of erstwhile isms, towards a new modernity that will be nothing like the "modernism" achieved hitherto.
Bernard Ceysson, born in 1939
After studying literature and art history, in 1967 he was appointed curator of the musée d'Art et d'Industrie in Saint Etienne. At the time, he was youngest institutional head in office, and he led the transformation and development of the museum in such a way that since 1987 three museums in Saint-Etienne have been preserving, studying and displaying the artistic, crafts, historical and industrial heritage of the city: the musée d'Art et d'Industrie in a renovated building; the musée de la mine in the former pit mining site of Couriot with, in the basement, a spectacular reproduction of a mine shaft, and, finally, with the founding of the musée d'Art moderne which now has the second-largest French collection of modern and contemporary art.
Appointed director of the Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in 1986, he resigned the following year and became head of the musée d'art moderne of Saint-Etienne, the project for and creation of which he had assured, together with Didier Guichard, its architect. In the same year, 1987, he was appointed director of the museums of Saint-Etienne.
From 1991, he was also employed as consultant responsible for drafting a museographical project and architectural programme for the Musée d'Art moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxembourg, for which the architect chosen was I.M. Pei. From 1996 to 1999, he was the artistic director of the Fondation Musée d'Art moderne Grand-Duc Jean.
He has taught as a lecturer at the universities of Lyon II and Saint Etienne. He participated twice as lecturer in art history in the French programme at Bennington College, Vermont, USA.
Bernard Ceysson is a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, Croix de la valeur militaire with silver star and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
He has been responsible for the acquisition and donation of important works of art now in the holdings of museums in Saint-Etienne. In the field of art, in addition to some fine Old Masters, made to stay true to the purchasing policy initiated by his predecessor, Maurice German, the acquisitions mainly concerned the fields of modern and contemporary art:
1967 - 1979
1972 - 1976, works by Yves Klein, Raoul Hausmann, Francis Picabia, Kurt Schwitters, Alexandra Exter, Ivan Koudriachov, Jean Hélion, Alberto Magnelli, Jean Dubuffet, Olivier Debré, Gilles Aillaud, Jacques Monory, Bernard Rancillac, Hervé Télémaque, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier, Bernar Venet, Jochen Gerz, among others. But as of 1973, he mostly bought works by artists of the Supports/Surfaces movement and moment, such as Claude Viallat, Louis Cane, Toni Grand, Bernard Pagès, Jean-Michel Meurice, and Christian Jaccard, and arranged for the acquisition of works by Louise Nevelson, Sam Gilliam, Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Jim Dine, Tom Wesselmann, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Joseph Kosuth and more. These were the first works of this generation of American artists to enter French public collections.
In 1973, the museum received the donation of a Self-portrait by Andy Warhol, dedicated to Nico, from the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery.
1980 - 1997 The acquisitions grew in number and importance. It became possible to put together some exceptional series thanks to the sponsorship decided by Antoine Guichard of Casino. Two other works by Frank Stella thus joined the collection. These were followed by works by Morris Louis, Roy Lichtenstein, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, (2) Ellsworth Kelly (2), Joseph Kosuth, On Kawara and Robert Morris, the last offering a work to the museum after a major purchase. Thus was formed the only convincing collection of American art outside Paris. Other works followed; Richard Long, Victor Burgin, Art & Language, Barry Flanagan, David Tremlett, John Murphy, Anthony Cragg, Julian Schnabel, Barbara Kruger, John Baldassari, a monumental work by Claes Oldenburg and Cossje van Bruggen and a series of photographs by Berndt and Hilla Becher.
Works by Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck were also acquired at this time.
In 1983, following the exhibition of his recent paintings by the museum, Gerhard Richter accompanied the purchase of Glen with the donation of one of his first Vanities. That same year, after the monographic exhibition devoted to her by the museum, a work by Cindy Sherman joined the collections.
A set of works (12) by Jean Dubuffet was also brought together. Important works by César Domela, Jean Herbin, Jean Fautrier, André Masson, Yves Tanguy, Germaine Richier, Pierre Soulages (4), Hans Hartung, Bram Van Velde, Simon Hantaï, François Morellet entered the collections. Similarly, groups of works were formed by artists of or close to various movements, including New Realism - Arman, Villeglé Spoerri -–Supports/Surfaces - Claude Viallat, Daniel Dezeuze, Marc Devade, Noël Dolla, Patrick Saytour, Bernard Pagès - of which the Museum of Saint-Étienne holds the the largest collection, together with the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. In counterpoint, a number of Arte Povera works were also collected: Mario Merz, Gilberto Zorio, Luciano Fabro, Giuseppe Penone.
During this same period, the museum also acquired two important installations by Daniel Buren and sought to collect installations, paintings and photographs of other artists like Bertrand Lavier, Bernar Venet, Helmut Federle, Thomas Schütte, Ludger Gerdes, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Harald Klingelhöller, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Fabrice Hybert, Jana Sterbak, Choreh Feydzjou, etc.
At the same time, the museum benefited from major long-term loans of works belonging to the state: Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Chagall, Mikhail Larionov, Gerhard Richter, A.R. Penck, etc.
Major donations further enriched the collections. The legacy of Jacqueline Victor-Brauner provided the museum with a set of 20 paintings by Victor Brauner and over 3000 drawings, constituting a unique collection by one of the key exponents of surrealism. The gift by Vicky Rémy rounded off the collection of works of the Supports/Surfaces and conceptual art movements with works by Toni Grand, Bernard Pagès, Ben and especially with the imposing collection of Art & Language works (40 ) works by Hanne Darboven, Tania Mouraud, Robert Filliou and Fluxus (200), Bernar Venet, Dennis Oppenheim, Peter Hutchinson, Bill Beckley, etc. This gift was followed by that of François and Ninon Robelin, composed of essential works by Robert Filliou, Dieter Roth, George Brecht, Sigmar Polke, Michaël Buthe, Günter Brus, Arnulf Rainer, Marcel Broodthaers, Vlassis Caniaris, Wolf Vostell, Erik Dietman, Jochen Gerz, Alighiero Boetti, Barbara and Michaël Leisgen, etc.
In 1997, the Museum of Modern Art of Saint-Etienne was the only museum in France outside Paris able to present such a "corpus" of the French and international art from the late fifties onwards. Besides the donations and long-term loans mentioned, other long-terms loans since turned into donations took place of works acquired by the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. This rich collection of an extraordinary set of post-conceptual works enabled the museum to complete its historical collections.
An exceptional loan in terms of quality and the identity of the lender contributed in 1998 to enhance the international status of the museum. This is the loan effected by Ileana Sonnabend of part of her collection. All of a sudden, the museum saw its American collection enhanced with series of major works by Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, Keith Sonnier, Joseph Kosuth, Jeff Koons and more. To these were added further works by Gilbert & George, Jorg Immendorf, Anselm Kiefer and so on...
More recently, the legacy of a work of Morris Louis made good on a promise made orally to Bernard Ceysson in 1997 by Madame Brenner, the artist's widow.
The writing of this "professional" biography enables its author to regret the near disappearance of the museum partitions to display a collection of such magnitude. Of course, the entire collection cannot be displayed permanently, but from time to time, groups of works could be drawn from storage to compose "exhibitions" of real interest. Some of these loans are being returned to the collectors who had made them possible and who are now somewhat vexed at knowing they have never been displayed. One can only deplore this fact with a smile, while trying not to weep from frustration at the ignorance and carelessness of both elected officials and institutional heads.
Bernard Ceysson managed to form an important collections of drawings and one of the largest collections of photography in France, and then to create the largest collection dedicated to "Design" outside Paris.
He has planned, prepared and organised the presentation of more than 150 exhibitions. There is little point in recalling them all. Suffice it to mention:
1971: Peter Saul; Bernard Rancillac. 1973: Réalité, réalités (Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Frank Stella, Richard Estes, Don Eddy, Claude Viallat, Christian Boltanski, Annette Messager) Hantaï. 1974: Robert Rauschenberg; Sarkis; Robert Morris; Réalismes en Allemagne, 1919 - 1933 (Otto Dix, Christian Schad, George Grosz, Heinrich M. Davringhausen, Hannah Höch, Karl Hubbuch, Franz Radziwill, etc.); Nouvelle peinture en France (André-Pierre Arnal, Vincent Bioulès, Daniel Dezeuze, Noël Dolla, Toni Grand, Christian Jaccard, Jean-Michel Meurice, Bernard Pagès, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, Claude Viallat), Claude Viallat.
These were followed by exhibitions devoted to Jean-Michel Meurice, Toni Grand and Bernard Pagès, Daniel Dezeuze Patrick Saytour, Jochen Gerz, Art & Language, Olivier Debré, etc.
1976: Pierre Soulages; Les Années 30 en France. 1981: Toni Cragg; Après le classicisme (Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorf, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Anselm Kiefer, Per Kirkeby, Frank Stella, Susan Rothenberg, Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Raysse, François Rouan, Claude Viallat, Patrick Saytour, Gérard Garouste, Robert Combas, Sandro Chia, etc.). 1982: Mythe, Drame, Tragédie (Jean-Michel Alberola, Gérard Garouste,Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Anselm Kiefer, Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi, Christopher Le Brun, etc.).
1983 Giacometti; 1984: Gerhard Richter; Cindy Sherman; 1985 Bram Van de Velde; 1987: L'Art en Europe, les années décisives, 1945 - 1953; 1988 Paul Klee. 1989: L'art des années soixante et soixante-dix. La collection Panza; De la Révolution à la Perestroika. Les arts soviétiques dans la collection Ludwig. 1992 Victor Brauner; Supports/Surfaces, 1966 - 1976. 1993 L'Écriture griffée (Antonin Artaud, Victor Brauner, Bernard Buffet, César, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Gruber, Jean Hélion, Henri Michaux, Germaine Richier, Pierre Tal Coat, Wols). This exhibition was followed by two equally important exhibitions for which unfortunately no catalogues could be published: Entre la sérénité et l'inquiétude and Réalités noires. Both exhibitions brought together works, among others, by Rouault, Braque, Dubuffet, Bissière, Fautrier, Giacometti, Manessier, Magnelli, Bram van Velde, Beckmann, Bissier Baumeister, Corinth, Freud, Bacon, Spencer, Rothko, Tobey and others).
Besides three important contributions on art in France after the war, and books on art in France and Europe, Bernard Ceylon wrote the text of Volume 3 of La grande histoire de la peinture moderne, De l'invention de l'abstraction au surréalisme, 1910 - 1930, éditions Skira, Geneva, 1982. He has contributed to the collective work: La grande tradition de la sculpture, éditions Skira, Geneva, written in 1987 and, in part, the pages devoted to sculpture in Italy in the Quattrocento. He is the author of a book on Pierre Soulages and of texts on Frank Stella, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Magnelli, Jean Dubuffet, Jean Bazaine, Roger Bissière, Alfred Manessier, Zao Wou-ki, Bram van Velde, Olivier Debré, Julius Bissier, Claude Viallat, Daniel Dezeuze, Gérard Fromanger André Fougeron, and more.