Ian Hamilton Finlay's neon work Je vous salue Marat (1989) refers to one of the most notorious demagogues of the French Revolution, Jean Paul Marat (1743–1793). The work was created in the year of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution which is the central theme in many of Finlay's works. The inaugural greeting 'Je vous salue' of the French 'Ave Maria' prayer puts Marat into the position of Holy Mary. With the neon letters shining in the French tricolor he becomes the country's chosen savior.
Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006) was a Scottish conceptual artist and poet whose oeuvre is mainly rooted in concrete and visual poetry. Over the course of forty-five years, Finlay published booklets, postcards and posters in more than a thousand different forms in collaboration with well-known artists though his 'Wild Hawthorn Press' publishing company which he founded in 1961 and in his magazine Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1985 and his work was shown at documenta 5, in Kassel (1987). Tate Britain, London, devoted a comprehensive solo exhibition to the artist in 2012. His works are part of renowned institutional and private collections worldwide and his sculptures have been installed in parks, gardens and buildings of many European countries. The artist's refuge 'Little Sparta', an estate in the Scottish countryside, where Finlay lived from 1966, is considered one of the masterpieces of modern British horticulture.
Press release courtesy KEWENIG.