Art autrement


Martin Guesnet, directeur Europe de la maison de ventes Artcurial.

Martin Guesnet

  • "Giving the local scene greater visibility"


Artcurial auction house's Europe Director is the new president of Botox(s), the Alps and Riviera contemporary art network that is behind all sorts of original initiatives, including the Curiosité(s) festival in June-July.

Fancy discovering museums, galleries and other cultural venues in a friendly, convivial ambience? "Botox(s) was originally set up to publicise contemporary art on the Côte d’Azur but recently it has extended its network into the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Hautes-Alpes and the Italian border region – it's growing all the time," enthuses Martin Guesnet. This well-known figure is particularly fond of our region because, after beginning his career in Paris, he ran the Beaubourg Gallery in Vence during the 1990s. "That was a very dynamic period, with a generation of artists who have made careers and galleries that have since moved up to Paris." But although there was a wealth of art venues, individually they were rather isolated. "Botox(s)'s driving force is to have federated all those locations. The network now comprises 30 entities, private and public." This means educational outings of a new sort can be organised, such as the Saturday Visitors that once a month take members of the public off to visit four or five art locations where in-house directors, conservators, artists or exhibition curators show them around.

Off the beaten track
Another bold new venture is the Tchatches, or Natters. Every three months a tchatcheur presents a topic – artwork, exhibition, book, project – by talking about 20 images for 20 seconds each, the only stipulation being that it is art. The venue is different every time and there's a guest artist. Martin Guesnet's arrival also marks a new departure for the network's summer events. After 10 editions of Les Visiteurs du Soir, the event that has drawn thousands of people over one weekend has grown into the Curiosité(s) festival running from 8 June to 29 July, a contemporary art trail punctuated by events, so people can take their time exploring the venues throughout the Botox(s) region, including the most distant from the coastal towns. A great opportunity for locals and tourists to absorb the dynamics of the extended regional art scene.

To Italy and beyond
"So I've returned to a completely different context," explains Guesnet, now Europe Director at Artcurial auctioneers established in Monte-Carlo, among other places. "The Riviera art scene has expanded spectacularly. The attitude to culture has changed, there's now real political commitment. The Principality too wants to give the art market a space of its own. Monaco may not be large in surface area but culturally it's experiencing an incredible boom, it's something of an art hub." A diplomat and a European at heart, Botox(s)'s new president nourishes ambitious objectives: "Botox(s) has established the bases of a powerful network with a firm regional grounding. So for me it's a fantastic challenge to give it greater visibility, from Paris to Munich, nationally and internationally. And encourage art foundations to join us."