Catherine Tasca Minister of culture and communication
The purpose of nominating Masters of Art is to ensure the conservation, valuation and transmission of the know-how of excellence that are essential to preserve the heritage as well as to ensure contemporary creation.
Indeed, the title of Master of Art is a testimony to an exceptional mastery of technique and to the transmission of this knowledge to others.
Jean-Jacques Aillagon Minister of culture and communication
Their unique talents combine tradition and creation, love for matter and the virtuosity of the gesture, the intelligence of the eye and the hand.
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres Minister of culture and communication
We have come a long way since 1994, when the first Masters of Art were nominated by the Minister of Culture, along the same principles as the National Living Treasures of Japan! Indeed, our Masters of Art are our National Living Treasures, whose value and rarity rests in their own hands, those hands which hold a know-how of excellence, an exceptional skill and, using the appealing term used by Liliane Bettencourt, who is striving for the advancement of the Masters of Art, an extraordinary "intelligence". In the same way as the National Treasures of Japan, our Masters of Art have been invested with a mission: to ensure that this invaluable legacy is passed on, that their techniques are renewed and forever reinvented.
I am very watchful to preserving these exceptional crafts, which carry aloft, throughout the world, the beauty, the quality and the excellence which have established, and continue to establish, the prestige of French art and "savoir-vivre". I believe in their priceless and fundamental value, because I believe deeply in the love of work well done, in patience, in what is exceptional and unique, within a century where everything tends toward uniformity and zapping, in a world which favors that which is disposable and industrially produced. In this sense, you have an enormous responsibility, that of passing on a taste for that which is rare and for the effort required to obtain it, the love of the movement of the hand and the great amount of time needed for true creation. As Georges Duby said, what is art but a "[...] skill in implementing practices through which man ensures his grip on the world"? And what is a master, but he who opens our eyes on this world and teaches this skill?
Indeed, art crafts are one of our greatest riches, and it is our responsibility to pass them on, to preserve them, and to put the spotlight on these masters who are true creators and whose works shine in France and abroad. We must support all the professionals who accept challenges in their companies, who take an interest in research, who experiment with new materials or new technologies in order to find innovative applications.
This is why I am very pleased that four shop foremen from luxury companies, which are members of the Comité Colbert, an association whose 70 members are prestigious French companies, have been designated. I wish to warmly hail the commitment of those who forge the reputation of these top luxury houses.
The luxury companies are true ambassadors for all the masters of art that constitute a prestigious "association", but which must move out of the shadows. These companies are also in the heart of the city, and are concerned with training young talents in order to perpetrate their techniques, and to provide a living for their exceptional workshops.
I call upon you, also, to pursue your quest for beauty, knowing that it will no be acquired for ever, but that it is a wager on the future, especially for your crafts.
To all, I wish to reaffirm our gratitude and our admiration, and to reassert that France can well be proud of your talents.