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French Artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet’s Favorite Color is Yellow

The affinity is evident in his new installation for Van Cleef & Arpels.

Artist Spotlight
French Artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet’s Favorite Color is Yellow
Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

There’s something alluring about seeing French artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet’s playful renderings of daffodils and pansies set against the art deco facades of Fifth Avenue’s historic buildings. The contrast calls to attention the precision of every brushstroke and the curvature of each petal. The vibrant color palettes of the work offset the dreary hues of the sidewalks—yellow versus grey, pink against black.

For the second time, Van Cleef & Arpels has tapped Navet to accessorize the tony midtown corridor with multiple installations. In partnership with the Fifth Avenue Association, the blooms will stand throughout the month of May, peppered along Fifth between 50th and 59th Streets. In tandem with its debut, we asked Navet to share a bit about what drives his work, where he looks for inspiration, and of course, his favorite color.

Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

Coveteur: What are your first memories of feeling inspired by art? The first things specifically that captivated you?

Alexandre Benjamin Navet: “Dubuffet’s Room at Centre Pompidou impressed me so much when I was young. As an artist and a designer, I love sharing with the public. I want them to feel something special when they are in front of what I have done. Large-scale installations are the most exciting projects!”

Did you grow up in an artistic family? If not, how did you cultivate this interest?

ABN: “From what I remember, I have always drawn. My mother was an art student and my father used to work on French radio. They also owned a gallery so they have always been very supportive and encouraged me to pursue this creative potential.”

Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

Where and what did you study? Did you work under anyone before working on your own?

ABN: “Drawing has always been very natural to me, so I started studying applied arts and industrial design. Since my graduation from ENSCI–Les Ateliers (the French national institute for advanced studies in industrial design) in 2011, this initial training has formed the basis for an approach that transforms surfaces in a juxtaposition of tones, objects, and plays on perspective. After graduating, I started as an independent artist and designer.”

Your work is so distinctive. Has your art evolved over the years or has it always essentially looked like this?

ABN: “I enjoy experimenting with new techniques and new themes in my work, but always at the service of the energy of color. There is always this common thread.”

Which colors are you most attracted to in your work and where do you think these inclinations came from?

ABN: Yellow may be the most significant color to me; it’s luminous, it brings light, and it always transforms the composition of a work. More importantly, colors are always considered as part of a palette in my work, not taken separately.”

Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

How do you decide which objects to paint? Do you have a preference between manmade objects like ceramics versus natural elements like flowers?

ABN: “I have always been fascinated by nature but it was not always shown in my artworks. Before I started to work together with Van Cleef & Arpels, I used to draw my inspiration from architecture and everyday objects—[I was] a bit obsessed with ceramics! I expanded my vocabulary and expressed my palette working on the spring season with them, always leaving a lot of room for the energy of color. The hands of craftsmen are an endless source of beauty and inspiration for me, though nature means everything. It's impossible for me to prioritize these themes in my work.”

What are your favorite places to look for inspiration for your artwork?

ABN: "I am surrounded by art books and objects [like] ceramics and wooden objets. When I work, I love to grab references in my everyday life so my working and living environment are very important to my work. Living so close to museums such as the Louvre in Paris is also incredibly inspiring and enriching.”

How would you compare your personal aesthetic—whether it’s how you get dressed or how you decorate your home—to your colorful, painterly style of work?

ABN: “Color is a powerful source of energy, evoking immediate and deeply felt emotions. In my living space and wardrobe, I am more into neutral tones. Additionally, since I don't spend much time surrounded by my own artwork, I guess I need to be surrounded by more muted tones to express the vivid colors in my work.

Why did you decide to work with Van Cleef & Arpels?

ABN: "We started working together in 2017 when I won the Grand Prix Van Cleef & Arpels at Design Parade Toulon. We started our collaboration in 2019 and every year is more impressive and inspiring than the previous one. We trust each other with the Maison and started a beautiful conversation, so I hope the journey has just begun!”

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