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To mark the 20th anniversary of its commitment to “the intelligence of the hand”, the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller has entrusted Laurent Le Bon with curating an exhibition designed by artist Isabelle Cornaro, which will be held from the 16th October to the 10th November 2019 at Palais de Tokyo. 


For one month, as part as the season dedicated to the “Scène française”, the Palais de Tokyo will host the various talents that have been rewarded and supported by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller for the last twenty years, without trying to hierarchize the works or the crafts displayed. The sentence that has been chosen as the title of the exhibition est issue de L’Idée fixe ou Deux Hommes à la mer*, 1932 (translated into English as Idée Fixe. A Dialogue by the Sea, New York, Bollingen Foundation, 1965) ), a novel by Paul Valéry. It sets up a dialogue with the lines by the author inscribed on the pediments of the Palais de Chaillot, a building located nearby and dating from the same period.

  • You must admit that hands are a really extraordinary appliance.… In the morning, professional…
  • And by appointment…
  • And in the evening, functional! … It’s wonderful.
  • They’re the all-purpose grippers!
  • But what about the mind?
  • It begins and ends in the fingertips.*


The exhibition - curated by Laurent Le Bon in an installation by the artist Isabelle Cornaro - is organized within the space of the magnificent “orbe New York” hall into four sequences which play on the variations of light intensity and on the dilation of space. It opens with a contextual introduction, designed as an astonishing cabinet of wonders and putting on display hundreds of pieces from the collections of the Beaux-Arts de Paris which celebrates the hands alone. These hands then become embodied, as the creative process is initiated. In the Workshop, visitors discover the faces, and the tools, machines and materials of the 281 French métiers d’art. The space then opens onto the city, and the creations are presented along a festive parade, bathed in natural light, and punctuated with the presence of vegetation, as in a happy vanitas still life. Finally, still images are set in motion and projected in a panorama representing various types of actions carried out to support the métiers d’art: restoring primacy to the senses, the panorama is also an invitation to imagine the future.

For the last twenty years, the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main®, established by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, has highlighted the exceptional skills, creativity, and innovation of craftspeople involved in the French contemporary art scene. This exhibition is a reflection of the Fondation’s commitment to philanthropic endeavors.

The exhibition catalog, published by Flammarion, is available at the Palais de Tokyo and in bookstores.

Exhibition L’esprit commence et finit au bout des doigts

16 October – 10 November, 2019 - Everyday except Tuesdays, from midday to midnight - Buy a ticket

PALAIS DE TOKYO 13, avenue du Président Wilson 75 116 Paris


  • 1/7

    Soufflage du verre dans l'atelier du CIAV de Meisenthal (2014) Photo ©Sophie Zénon pour la Fondation Bettencourt Schueller

  • 2/7

    Claude Aiello et Mathieu Lehanneur, L’Âge du Monde. Photo © Claude Germain

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    David de Gourcuff & Studio A+A Cooren, Fauteuil Tiss-Tiss (et détail), 2017. Photo ©Gwen Le Bras

  • 4/7

    Frédéric Richard, Emmanuel Joussot et Eric Benqué, Sellettes, 2012. Photo Thibault Breton, courtesy Mouvements Modernes

  • 5/7

    Julien Vermeulen, Black Eole, 2019. Photo ©Antoine Lippens

  • 6/7

    Nicolas Marischael et Felipe Ribon, Osmos. Photo ©Felipe Ribon

  • 7/7

    Frédéric Richard, Emmanuel Joussot et Eric Benqué, Sellettes, 2012. Photo Thibault Breton, courtesy Mouvements Modernes

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