Jean Guyot, 2000 , Huile et acrylique sur toile , 130 x 195 cm
Sans titre , Huile sur toile
Tartans (grande série) Angus
Propos d’Europe VI – Tribute to Jean Guyot
“6 September 2001 (80 years): The ninth decade has arrived: fourscore years! Enough to fill up four lifetimes: for example, one for family, one for Hippocrene, one for Lazard, and one for all the rest – music, art, golfing, and who knows what else! Always keeping in mind that like the thief in the Gospel, the Ferryman can put an end to this adventure at any time”. (Extracted from Jean Guyot’s diary)
On 9 September 2006, almost five years later to the day, Jean Guyot, the founder of the Hippocrene Foundation, passed away. The Propos d’Europe VI exhibition, organised by Jean Daviot, is displaying the works of artists who have previously exhibited pieces at the Foundation and wanted to pay him a personal tribute. Thanks be to them all.
The Propos d’Europe cycle was launched five years ago. The Foundation’s commitment to contemporary art is a natural extension of its development and of the personalities of Mona and Jean Guyot.
In the introduction to the first Propos d’Europe exhibition organised by Pascale le Thorel, Jean Guyot looks back at his European adventure which began when Jean Monnet asked him to assist him in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952 to set up the institution’s finance department: “It was the beginning of an adventure – that of the institution, because the ECSC was the embryo of what would become the European Union – as well as my own, because I remained in close contact with the construction of Europe and with Jean Monnet until his passing”.
He then adds: “Inevitably, the scope of the institutional framework was limited and certain important areas were overlooked in the original project; these included culture, relations between young Europeans, underprivileged groups and the preservation of a common heritage. This is what prompted the creators of the Hippocrene Foundation to pool their capabilities and resources – albeit limited – to support diverse projects affecting or developed by young Europeans with the ambition of keeping the flame alive through a continued commitment to the spirit of the EU’s founding fathers”.
All throughout their lives, Mona and Jean Guyot developed artistic awareness and flair that sparked their interest in myriad forms of creation and their ongoing involvement: they were members of the Société des Amis du Musée National d’art moderne Centre Pompidou, personally supported the Association pour le Renouveau de l’Opéra de Paris as well as multiple artistic events, and through the Hippocrene Foundation, supported other such events such as the popular concerts of the Orchestre Colonne.
A special commitment to European artists thus emerged as one of the Foundation’s natural missions. The aim was not to turn the Foundation into an arts centre or museum, but rather to create a meeting and discussion space for European artists and generate a dynamic involving a growing number of figures wanting to uphold the idea of Europe by exploring the continent’s contemporary cultural identity.
In 2001, the former agency of architect Robert Mallet-Stevens was acquired, later becoming the Foundation’s headquarters, providing a venue for the organisation of exhibitions that would become the Propos d’Europe cycle. This historical site secured a long-term future for the Foundation’s actions by enabling it to gradually institutionalise certain projects. In 2002, Jean Guyot noted that “the Foundation has begun to establish a financial core allowing it to look forward to the future with confidence”.
Today, in addition to the tribute paid to Jean Guyot and the pieces on display, the Foundation is looking to affirm its will to keep exploring these expressions of Europe and developing its actions aimed at young Europeans. In short, it is committed to continuing the adventure.