'' Cemetery of Artists | A history of performance art on the Riviera from 1951 until now

Cemetery of Artists

Jean Mas
Jean Mas
Bibliographical sources: 
cité in Performas, 40 ans d'art d'attitude, Alain Amiel, 2010
Jean Mas

Dessins de Guy Rottier, projet pour le cimetière d'artistes

Technique description référence: 
Dessins de Guy Rottier, projet pour le cimetière d'artistes
Jean Mas | trace de la performance "Cimetière d'artistes", 1995 | © DR | courtesy de l'artiste
Jean Mas | trace de la performance "Cimetière d'artistes", 1995 | © DR | courtesy de l'artiste

The action involves laying claim to a cemetery.


A cemetery of artists – will we ever see the day?

A project has been left by the mayor of Nice by the care of Editions Giletta. Others will follow!...


At Jean MAS’s place, in the countryside and in a state of minde already imagining his next performance “election campaign” (also “electoral countryside”), the project of a “cemetery of artists” was taking form. Gilbert Grisoni got involved from the start to follow it and ensure a theoretical study of a possible achievement of this project.


One memorable evening at l’Artistique, Jean Mas explains the outline, the general direction of this development and provokes a great surging controversy that takes over the room. To fix some ideas, Guy Rottier makes some drawings of possible burial places that forms the begins of a concrete collaboration between interested artists. It would seem that such a conception would find itself in an institutional setting. Very sensitive to the indisputable poles of interest that would give birth to this artistic space that, in a contemporary manner, would put this new cemetery-museum in the line of that of Père Lachaise or that of Gênes, we receive outstanding support from a variety of sources.

Strengthened by these encouragements and an analysis of feasibility, Mr Gilbert Grisoni decides to present the program of this budding endeavor to his design lab.


Letter from Gilbert Grisoni to Jean Mass:


Dear friend,

Very soon I’m organizing an evening at the MAMAC auditorium on the theme:

Cemetery – Museum of Contemporary Artists.

I am indeed committed to defending a project designed to provide the region with such a place. This singularity in a contemporary perspective puts this undertaking in an expression of renewing funerary art.

After a first study of feasibility supported by the existence of much-visited burial places, I am convinced that we can really believe in this coming to life.

I would like to know your opinion on this subject, also, very soon my design lab will contact you and likewise solicit your participation and presence at our meeting.

Certain of the surprise and interest that you will carry in regards to such an approach, please accept my warmest greetings.


Jean Mas’ response:


Dear friend,

On this theme, at the end of ’95 there will be an exhibition-debate that will report on the subject. At this time, a booklet of drawings by Guy Rottier will be published. We will soon consult various personalities from the art world, asking for their advice on and engagement in the project.


Jean Mas

Presented in 1995 at the Loft Galerie in Nice, on an idea from Jean Mas, given form by the “Conspiratorial” Association with drawings by Guy Rottier.

- The only innovative domain in the region for an architect – is it that of his final resting place?

- Sitting in a cemetery, that is to become a part of the museum’s continuity.

- Each tomb or cenotaph will be representative of the work of the artists.

- Just like le Père Lachaise (a famous cemetery), Genova, this cemetery aims to be a nice place to visit, a permanent exhibition in which artists of the Ecole de Nice will coexist without “curse.”

Jean Mas | photographie de la performance "Cimetière d'artistes", 1995 | © Jean Mas | photographie : © DR | courtesy Alain Amiel
Jean Mas | photographie de la performance "Cimetière d'artistes", 1995 | photographie : © DR | courtesy de l'artiste