By United Artists for Europe
Europe is in crisis. The rise of extremism and populism, and the return of nationalism in all its guises are imperilling the grand ideas of a peaceful continent and a community united by culture and open to the world.
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Fresque de craies L, 2015, Chalks, mixed media, 240 x 330 cm. Courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana, Photo by Veronica Tronnolone
More than ever, Europe needs benchmarks so that people can recall not only its utility but its unity. More than ever, Europe needs proofs that it is not just a bureaucratic idea and a collection of directives from Brussels. More than ever, it is urgent to demonstrate that Europe is not only a place for the free circulation of ideas, people and goods but also for something too often forgotten: a shared artistic, aesthetic and cultural heritage.
Europe is a land that has always been shaped by the arts. It is a continent of capitals of art, of museums and galleries. It is a continent for excursions devoted to the discovery of ancient art, the art of the Renaissance, Impressionism, Bauhaus design and Dada. The European identity that we share, from Dublin to Budapest, is also an artistic identity.
At this moment of dangerous nationalist assertion, artists have not had enough say. For who, in fact, is more European than a painter or sculptor, whether Italian, Czech, Portuguese, German, or Danish? Artists are voyagers whose work is fed by what they encounter and discover in their travels, retreats and exiles. Through their work, they open new horizons to the real; their art knows no frontiers, not even those of language. Who could be better suited to defend a united Europe?
It is this awareness, at such a decisive moment in the history of our continent, that has given rise to the idea of an exhibition and charity auction of a new kind: one for the benefit of the European idea. The event will feature works of art from every country in Europe.
This initiative will also provide the occasion for the launch of an artists’ appeal for Europe. In signing the appeal, contemporary artists living and working in Europe will affirm that, for them, Europe is not a vain ideal but one that they are committed to defend, in the interest of all, against the perils it faces today.
The United Artists for Europe committee