François Hers (born in 1943 in Brussels) is known as a photographer and a Belgian artist. He has been living and working in France since 1968.
According to his own words, in 1963, François Hers decided to break out of the museum walls which blocked the prospects Dada had opened up. Between society, its artists and their works, he chose to establish a pattern of connections that would be as contemporary as the works themselves. In his opinion, whatever the formal progress suggested by the avant-garde, such connections still build up without a conscious choice or remain within frames thought of during the Renaissance. This subject proved the common theme linking all his work.
Along the sixties and the seventies, François Hers used photography as a mean to achieve performances and to question possible patterns of the relations an artist may develop with its society; as well as the ones between society members themselves .
In 1972, he took part in creating an authors-photographers’ cooperative named Viva. It enabled him to travel and to think about his relation to the world. It also opened him up the opportunity to experiment an economy based on demand, and as such, in opposition with anonymous exchange models which in the field of Arts are typically the ones of an economy based on offer.
He held exhibitions in various museums and Art Centres. He had Intérieurs published in 1981 by the Brussels Modern Architecture Archives Editions.
In 1983, he had his book Récit published by the Lebeer-Hossmann editions in Brussels and by the Herscher editions in Paris; it was issued under the title A Tale by the Thames & Hudson editions in London. This book shows his thrive to free the modern artist from a situation where he is doomed to remain a mere lonely hero of his own story, a scenario where the work itself is locked in the status of object, part of a property or as a traded good. The artist thus fails to achieve the aim of its generation willing to place Art within life.
In 1986, he took part in the exhibition Chambres d’Amis (guest rooms) in Gand, and worked together with a major contemporary Art gallery. It convinced him of the need to go on searching means to reach his goals elsewhere than in museums and through unprecedented cooperation.
In 1983, the French Inter ministerial Delegation for Territorial and Regional Attractiveness, the DATAR, contacts him. François Hers convinces this public structure to endorse its own cultural liability connected to its technical activity which transforms landscapes in France. Facing such responsibilities will then lead to partnerships with artists in charge of setting up new ways to connect oneself with the contemporary space. So will François Hers then have to plan and run until 1989 the then famous DATAR Photographic Mission.
The Protocol of New Patrons
The original path of this artist belonging to the conceptual movement brought him to suggest a new chapter in Art History in 1990, one called Art of Democracy.
In 1990, he completed the making up of “the New Patrons” and the “Fondation de France” decided in 1991 to bring his Protocol into reality. This initiative first came to life in France, and then in Europe through cooperation with a network of contemporary Art key figures named “mediators” set up by François Hers. Within the frame of sharing an equal liability, his Protocol assigns the parts played by all social actors: Citizens have to state why Art must exist and must endorse the responsibility of their commission; Artists have to create the adequate works of Art; Political elected representatives as well as Art patrons (together with their corresponding public services) shall contribute, with the help of the contemporary Art mediators, towards the realization of the initiative; Human Sciences researchers have to shed light on the different aspects of this action and shall also set it up in its appropriate prospect.
In order to support this movement, in 2001, François Hers had the Presses du Réel editions publish Le protocol in Dijon. This first manifest text was then translated in the languages of the many people involved in the process launched. In line with this book, the same editor published in 2012 L’Art sans le capitalisme, done together with Xavier Douroux, co-director of the Consortium Art Centre of Dijon.
Besides field work, François Hers set up jointly with the “Fondation de France” a support aimed at Human Sciences researchers questioning the different roles of artists and their work along history. This research still goes on with the Hartung-Bergman Foundation he has been heading since 1994. This foundation is also becoming a laboratory where he questions and creates together with his team the management of Art heritage, this other essential data of contemporary culture.
- Intérieurs, with Sophie Ristelhueber, Archives d’Architecture Moderne, 1981, ISBN 2-87143-022-5
- Récit, Herscher, 1983, ISBN 978-2-7335-0047-7
- Le Protocole, Les Presses du Réel, 2002, ISBN 978-2-8406-6075-0
- L’art sans le capitalisme, Les Presses du Réel, 2012, ISBN 978-2-8406-6506-9
Notes and references
- Encyclopedia of 20th century photography - Lynne Warren - 2006 - Page 693 " Belgian Francois Hers was born. ."