Matthieu Laurette

Matthieu Laurette
Matthieu Laurette
Birth name Matthieu Laurette
Born August 24, 1970
Villeneuve Saint Georges, France
Nationality French
Field Contemporary art
Training Ecole d'art de Grenoble
Movement conceptual art
Works "Moneyback Life!" - Venice Biennale - 2001
Awards Ricard Prize

Matthieu Laurette (born 1970 in Villeneuve Saint Georges, France) is a media and conceptual contemporary French artist who works in a variety of media, from TV and video to installation and public interventions.

He lives and works in Paris, Amsterdam, Bogotá and New York.



Laurette's work has been shown in venues such as Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Soho, New York (1998), the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1999 & 2003), 49th Venice Biennale (2001), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2001), Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2002), Artsonje Center, Seoul (2002), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003 & 2006), Biennal de Pontevedra (2004), P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center/MoMA, N.Y (2005), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2005), Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris (2005), Kunsthalle & Kunstforum, Vienna (2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2006), MNAM-Centre Pompidou, Paris, (1997, 2000, 2004, 2007 & 2009).

In 2003, he received the Ricard Prize for the most representative artist under 40 y.o. within the French scene

Laurette uses various strategies to explore the relationships between conceptual art, Pop art, Institutional Critique, economics and contemporary society. His best known works are Apparitions (1993-ongoing), Money-back Products (Produits remboursés) (1991–2001), Citizenship Project (1996-ongoing), El Gran Trueque (2000) and Déjà vu, The International Look-alike Conventions (2000-ongoing).

In 1993, Laurette declared himself an artist in a French TV gameshow called Tournez manège (The Dating Game). When the presenter asked him who he was he replied: 'A multimedia artist'. Laurette had sent out invitations to an art audience to view the show on TV from their homes.

Since his first Apparition on Tournez Manége, Laurette has been developing an ongoing series of what he calls 'Apparitions' on TV and in the media. (In French the word Apparition means both 'apparition' and 'appearance'). Among other shows he has appeared in La Grande famille, Canal +, TV (France) (December 5, 1994), Je passe à la télé, France 3, TV (France) (May 16, 1996), Journal de 13h et Journal de 20h France 2, TV (France) (May 16, 1997).

Laurette’s Apparition: The Today Show, NBC, 31 December 2004, (Guy Debord Is So Cool!) (2004) renegotiates the critique of mass media: amongst love message banners and goofy signs being held up by the audience of the outdoor-broadcast of the NBC infotainment show on Rockefeller Plaza in New York, Laurette held a pink cardboard sign stating “GUY DEBORD IS SO COOL!”

Laurette's Produits remboursés/Money-back Products (1993–2001) was his method of shopping and being fully refunded based on the basic marketing system of the major food and commodities corporations. He fed and cleaned himself for nothing by almost only ever buying products with "Satisfied or your money back" or "Money back on first purchase" offers. He gained fame in France and abroad at the time appearing on TV and media including in 1997 the French National evening news (Journal de 20h, France 2) and the frontpage of respected daily newspaper Le Monde with the headline 'Tomorrow we will eat for free' (Demain on mange gratis). In 1999 the Daily Express in UK featured him in an article titled "The secret of free shopping" and in 2000 the Daily Record named him 'The Freebie King'. In 2001 invited by Harald Szeemann curator of the 49th Venice Biennale he presented Moneyback Life! a large retrospective installation combining enlargements of press cuttings, a truck with an integrated TV wall showing TV clips of his Apparitions/Appearances and a life size wax figure of himself pushing a shopping cart full of Moneyback products.

Citizenship Project (Wanted: Financial Support to Acquire Citizenships) are a series of projects where Laurette attempts to acquire as many nationalities as possible, asking for donations as well as legal advice and practical support through donation boxes displayed in Museums and exhibitions as well as through websites. At the Venice Biennale in 2001, he offered non-represented countries national participation in the exhibition in exchange for the country granting him citizenship.

Produced by Consonni, El Gran Trueque (The Great Exchange) (2000), the TV game Laurette has created, with its own copyrighted concept, offerered TV viewers in Bilbao a chance to buy objects in exchange for a car offered by Laurette – the highest offer would be accepted, and then in turn be presented the following week for another exchange, and so on. After a few months the series of swaps finished with a set of six blue glasses that remained unswap.

The Déjà vu - International Look-Alike Conventions featuring among others Jennifer Aniston, Sean Connery, Salvador Dalí or Angelina Jolie look-alikes mingling with the crowd of art people, collectors and real celebrities are organized by Laurette on the occasion of art openings. These events have so far been held at Dia Art Foundation Fall Gala, New York (2004), Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2003); Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania (2003); Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia (2002); Artsonje Center, Seoul (2002); Castello di Rivoli, Torino (2001); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2000).

Matthieu Laurette is represented by Gaudel de Stampa, Paris and La Central, Bogotá (Colombia).

Nicolas Bourriaud describes Laurette as "using society as a catalog of forms...he plays with economic forms as if they were the lines and colors of a painting." (Bourriaud 2002, p16).


"I never decided "Oh yes great, tomorrow let's work with media and TV or legal fields ! They are surrounding us, we are part of it, so it seems clear to me that I have to deal with them. I'm just trying to find the best "spots" to develop activities that often interact with different audiences. I'm trying to "hack" or "hijack" contexts, media, audiences, budgets etc., to produce disjunctures. Disjunctures often generate their own tools, which one can in turn appropriate and use."

in Cristina Ricupero. Interview with Jens Haaning, Matthieu Laurette, Aleksandra Mir Publicness exhibition guide, Institute of Contemporary Art (London) January 2003.

"My first Apparition (in French “apparition means both “apparition” and “appearance”) was on the TV show Tournez manège on TF1, a game show based on the American idea of “Blind Date”; two teams, one of three men and the other of two women (or vice versa), were physically divided by a partition and had to choose a partner without seeing them. (This sequence was in fact called “Choisissez-moi!”, “Choose Me!”). At the beginning of the broadcast, each participant introduced himself/herself and answered questions from one of the presenters. She asked me what I wanted to become later in life and I answered: “an artist”. She went on to ask me what medium I worked in… “painting, sculpture?…”, to which I answered “multimedia”. In a context like that, the word I used was completely enigmatic. It probably had no meaning for the general public. In 1993, this word was exclusively used in the art world and not yet with computers, video games, etc. This episode was my artistic birth certificate!"

in Jérôme Sans. GUY DEBORD IS SO COOL! Matthieu Laurette interviewed by Jérôme Sans. Uovo (Milan), No. 11 (June 2006):pp 52–75.


  • Joerg Heiser, Matthieu Laurette in Notre Histoire. Exh. cat. Paris: Palais de Tokyo/ Paris Musées (2006).
  • Jérôme Sans, Guy Debord is So Cool! - Interview with Matthieu Laurette. Uovo (Milan), No 11, (June 2006): pp 52–75.
  • Jean-Max Colard, Matthieu Laurette: Yvon Lambert. Reviews, Artforum (New York), XLIII, no. 10 (Summer Issue 2005):p 335.
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, GNS (Global Navigation System), 27, 136-139. Exh. cat. Paris: Editions du Cercle d’art, 2003.
  • Jean-Charles Masséra, Sex, Art, and the Dow Jones, pp 254–257. New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2003. Essay. (first published as Amour, gloire et CAC 40, pp 297–302. Paris: éditions POL (1999). Essay).
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World, New York: Lukas and Sternberg (2002).
  • Pascal Beausse, La Biennale di Venezia, 49. Esposizione Internationale d'Arte - Platea dell'umanita. Exh. cat. Venezia: Electa (2001).
  • Aline Caillet, Matthieu Laurette: un artiste en embuscade. Interview and text, Parpaings (Paris), no. 26 (October 2001):pp 1, 3-6.
  • Inés Champey, Un formalisme réaliste. In Formalisme, Jeux de formes, 75-101. Paris: Publications de La Sorbonne, 2001. Essay.
  • The freebie King.Daily Record (Glasgow) (December 8, 2000): p 37.
  • Jack Gee, The secret of free shopping." Daily Express (October 22, 1999):p 23.
  • Anaïd Demir, Matthieu Laurette. Documents sur l'art (Dijon), no. 11 (Fall-Winter 1997-1998): pp 10–11.
  • Pascale Krémer, Demain on mange Gratis. Le Monde (Paris), no. 16267 (May 16, 1997): p 1.

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