French artist Ben dies at age 88 hours after wife’s death

June 7 (UPI) — French artist Ben has died at the age of 88, taking his own life hours after his wife of 60 years died of a stroke, his family said.

Annie Vautier, Ben’s wife, died at 3 a.m. Wednesday after suffering a stroke Monday night, their family said in a statement published to their art gallery’s Facebook page.

“Not wanting and unable to live without her, Ben died a few hours later at home, in Saint-Pancrace in the heights of Nice,” the family said in the statement.

“Genius never stand alone. We will remember Annie and Ben Vautier as an iconic couple of 20th century art.”

Born Benjamin Vautier on July 18, 1935, the artist adopted the pseudonym Ben, which he’s best known by.

He and Annie Vautier met in 1963 and married the next year. During the 1960s, Ben became publicly known for his post-modern art, according to his biography on the gallery’s website.

Ben is a founder of the Fluxus group, which Britain’s Tate Modern describes as being rooted in experimental music that “played an important role in opening up the definitions of what art can be.”

He is known for his text-based paintings, performance pieces, installations and writings.

The Elysee Palace paid its respects to Ben in a statement, which said President Emmanuel Macron of France and his wife, Brigitte Macron, “bow before the memory of an artist who, from the hills of Saint-Pancrace in Nice, continually pushed the boundaries to better write, in French, about disaster, insolence, and beauty.”

“On our children’s pencil cases, on so many everyday objects, and even in our imaginations, Ben had left his mark, made of freedom and poetry, with an apparent lightness and a deeply moving depth,” the Elysee Palace said.

“With his passing, France loses one of its most popular artists, inseparable from the city of Nice, an heir to Marcel Duchamp and the European Dadaists, who achieved a form of universality through his calligraphy.”

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