Members of Parliament, Mr President of the General Council, Mr Mayor of Fontainebleau and Regional Councillor, Dear Frédéric Valletoux,Madam Representative of the Regional Council,Mr Mayor of AvonMesdames and Mr Elected Members,Mr President of the Château de Fontainebleau, dear Jean-François Hébert,Madam Director-General of INHA, dear Antoinette Lenormand-Romain,Professors, Ladies and Gentlemen Conservatives, Dear Pierre Rosenberg,Dear Friend,

At my initiative, a new cultural event was born in Fontainebleau this weekend. Allow me to express my emotion, my pleasure, but also my gratitude. What I had imagined during my time as director of the Académie de France in Rome in 2009, what the «tour de France» of museums that I have undertaken since my appointment rue de Valois has suggested to me, What seemed to be complementary and necessary following the introduction of arts history education at all levels of education – from school to high school – since 2008 has been taking shape since yesterday. In the twenty-first century of all-images, in this incessant flood of icons, visual messages, avatars, was it not necessary to offer a place and a moment to «learn to see», to accompany the indispensable image education in a century that is already that of the screens.

In October 1972, nearly 40 years ago, André Chastel organized here, at the Château de Fontainebleau, a conference that reflected his attachment to French and Italian Renaissance art. As you know, André Chastel has distinguished himself by his many battles in favour of this discipline, both for his teaching at school and for his institutional recognition. I am thinking in particular of L'Inventaire général and the introduction of art history at Villa Medici. He also marked his time with his media positions in a major national daily and his eagerly defended desire to establish a national research institute with an international vocation. It is to him that I think, it is to his struggles, it is to his battles that I want to pay tribute as we open this beautiful demonstration.

Today, in a certain way, this first edition of the Festival de l'histoire de l'art in Fontainebleau reflects the imprint he left in this discipline.

This meeting is a decisive moment in that it finally recognizes, I dare say, the place of this discipline in the cultural and intellectual life of our country. The public goes massively to the major exhibitions, it adheres fervently to the proposals of the new museums – like the Centre Pompidou-Metz - it is therefore also in search of explanations and meaning, as illustrated by the success of the digital applications that accompany the exhibitions, like the «augmented» book - with critical texts and commented images - dedicated to the exhibition Monet of the Grand Palais.

The first event of its kind in Europe, the Art History Festival will of course be a sounding board for the most innovative research and work in the discipline. It is open to all schools, to all questions, to all ways that today question the visual object in France and Europe. His ambition is to interest a very large audience. Since the beginning of 2008, in order to root a common artistic culture, in accordance with the wish expressed by the President of the Republic, a new teaching of the history of the arts was born and developed in stages at all school levels. Chosen by 20% of college patent applicants, the History of the Arts exam registered in the patent program is mandatory since this year. Since October 2009, the result of a very large mobilization of actors, a portal «History of the Arts» has been set up to make available to teachers more than 3,000 digitized sheets, benefiting from a presentation by territory over the past year.

There is still a long way to go to bring this «educational revolution» to an end: resistance remains, obstacles remain, but I consider that a point of no return has been reached, I consider that a milestone has been reached. I feel that it is important to better train teachers, that it would eventually be necessary to think of a real training course in art history. Already, many schools and teachers have taken over this new transversal teaching. In this regard, this Festival has made it possible to give a stronger visibility to these issues and issues, especially through the Spring University held since Thursday, at the initiative of the Ministry of National Education and the National Institute of Art History (INHA). As you can see, this initiative does not exclude, select or prioritize. It intends to federate the professions that are today the actors of art history: academics, heritage curators, teachers, publishers and booksellers, collectors, gallery owners, but also actors of cultural tourism. She also intends to bring the arts and artists together. Long mined by conflicts and false oppositions, art history as a discipline finds the means to unite, to gather, to confront the challenges of a world that has made the image – including the image of itself – a fetish. Today, it is able to give meaning to the collective becoming, to restore a perspective to the chaos of the world, or more precisely to the chaos born of the multiplication of simulacra of all kinds. In the age of the infinite reproducibility of the image, it can help to give coherence, it can be a tool to make our time more intelligible. In other words, this event aims to «reconcile the sensible and the sensitive», to value what our Italian friends call «savoir-voir», to conquer works that do not speak for themselves.

Knowing how to reconcile emotion and intelligible, the visible and the hidden, perception and reflection: this is the challenge of any ambitious arts education policy. As Daniel Arasse said, the history of art consists in showing what we do not see, of seeing what the viewer has not seen.
The history of art can also make it possible to remove the prejudices and intimidation of those who do not dare to cross the doors of the «temples» of culture. Eye education, in a world characterized by a bombardment of images without order, without intelligibility, without hierarchy, is more than a requirement, it is a necessity. Today more than in the past, to make the construction of an image understand, to grasp the social stakes of a work, to understand that the image is not reality but that it is the sometimes scholarly construction of a discourse, these are the paths of an education in culture.

Art is also learning to conquer oneself and time. Indeed, art is sketching, construction, realization: as many stages as an audience immersed in the reign of the ephemeral and the evanescent cannot neglect. Let us never forget that the history of art bears responsibility for the past, monuments, archaeological sites, paintings that are important to preserve or acquire. Preserving and transmitting, this dual mission assigned to him clearly indicates his social role.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Valérie Pécresse, and the Minister of National Education, Youth and Community Life, Luc Chatel, for their support of the project. I would also like to thank the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA) – and especially the team coordinated by Florence Buttay - to whom was entrusted the expertise and the scientific conduct of the operation but also the public establishment of the castle of Fontainebleau which knew how to host it and highlight the places. On the 10th anniversary of the INHA, I see it as a sign of maturity and a significant turning point. This initiative would not have been possible without the local and regional authorities who actively supported this first edition. Thank you Mr Mayor of Fontainebleau, dear Frédéric Valletoux, who mobilized the teams of your city, facilitated access to the castle and supported with conviction the visibility of the event. Thank you, Mr President of the General Council, dear Vincent Eblé, for making the Festival shine beyond its epicentre, throughout the Seine-et-Marne region and for promoting the “Taste of Italian” route. It allows visitors to discover the hidden treasures of 13 churches in your department, without forgetting the delicious castle of Guermantes whose only evocation has a taste of madeleine, if I dare say so! I also want to mention the personal commitment of the Director of the National Heritage Institute (INP), Eric Gross, in the organization of the Salon du Livre et de la revue d'art, and highlight how the Centre national du Livre (CNL), the Syndicat national de l'édition – through its “Arts” section and the Syndicat de la Librairie française – actively contributed to the presence of 50 publishers and booksellers for this edition. Finally, I would like to thank the sponsors and private partners (Veolia, Veralbane, Illy) who were indispensable supporters as well as the media partners of the event (France 3, France Culture, Métro, L'Histoire, Connaissance des arts, Air France Magazine) which have made the bet of audacity and novelty.

The richness of art history is nourished by other approaches: it appreciates of course the history of the visual object, of its materiality, but it is also open to literature, philosophy, anthropology or even psychoanalysis. This plurality of approaches can allow it to fit into the public debate. For "the history of art must be an active discipline in the City", it must "foster a knowledge, a historical awareness that modifies the perspectives — so often naive — of the present". I deeply believe in this programme of work defined by André Chastel throughout his life.
Since my arrival at the Ministry of Culture and Communication, I have paid great attention to the institutions that transmit knowledge and expertise in the field of art history, especially those on which my Ministry exercises its tutelage: the Ecole du Louvre, the Institut national du patrimoine (INP), the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA). I wanted to visit each of these institutions, I wanted to visit the places and meet the actors to better understand their expectations. I do not want to forget the institutions of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Universities, the Research Centres, which are increasingly open to international partnerships and increasingly mobilized by initiatives of excellence.

I also consolidated and closely followed the project of a large Art History Library – the most important in France – a place that would be in a way the “Library of Babel” of a Borges who became an art historian, a place that will be a reference in Europe. This great tool for studies and research is worn by the Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA), in partnership with the Ecole du Louvre and the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux arts. In 2014, he will settle in the heart of the Richelieu quadrilateral, in the emblematic Labrouste room, well known to the regulars of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
I also contributed to the revival of the Focillon Scholarship, which was created, as you know, in the early 1950s by the Department of Foreign Affairs in memory of the death of Henri Focillon at Yale in 1943. I wanted to encourage the continuation of a half-century-old cooperation with one of the most prestigious American universities.

The history of art is served – I measure it when I travel in the regions, when I visit museums, archaeological sites and historical monuments on Sundays – by committed and passionate personalities, who often sacrifice much for their desire to understand, but also for their passion to transmit. Academics, curators of heritage, various actors are involved in their research without restraint, with the constant concern to make known to different audiences the result of their work. For the past two years, I have met admirable women and men, true “heroes”, true living witnesses of Culture, authentic servants of its transmission to the public.

Choosing Fontainebleau as a home for an art history festival is not anecdotal. It is here that the Italian Renaissance embraced French art, it is here that first-class artists stayed at the invitation of Francis I but also of Napoleon, it is in these walls that Nicolas Poussin, arriving from Rome, stayed a few days before reaching Paris and the court of Louis XIII. This city and castle constitute a European crossroads, the place of exemplary artistic meetings of the Primatice in Coypel, whose restored cartons we have just discovered. Fontainebleau Castle has a unique relationship to time and history. In Rome, a thousand-year-old city, visitors can appreciate the artistic legacy of the past, built in successive phases, each period superimposed on the other, in a kind of millefeuille with complex strata. At Fontainebleau, the layers of time are vertical, every moment of our history is shown side by side, the time shelves make visible the sequences of the history of modes and representations. Was it a more suitable place to evoke both the history of French art and that of influences and artistic contamination?
This meeting is a «festival», which intends to educate but also seduce. No willingness to give in to the festive imperative, but rather the desire to provide a forum for specialists while inviting a very large audience to share knowledge. This event, with conferences, exhibitions, concerts, a Book Fair and the Art Review, a cycle of films «Art and camera» must make you want to approach art and its history through several tools. It must also offer the opportunity to «play seriously» with the works as Daniel Arasse invited us.

Finally, let me say a few words about the modalities of the festival: an annual theme and a guest country.
The theme of this edition is Madness. It constitutes a part of the activity of the artists and their personality: the romantic conception of art gave rise to the idea of genius. Beyond that, there is also the way to question a relationship to the singular world maintained by the artist. The arts, in their diversity, question the norm, the irreducible freedom of creators illuminates the world at every moment. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the publication of the Eloge de la Folie d'Erasme and the 50th anniversary of Michel Foucault’s Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique, the organizers of the festival also wanted to include this first edition in a long history of society and cultural practices. Art history and philosophy are never far away: Marguerite Yourcenar’s admirable Zénon is there to testify to this. From Camille Claudel to Van Gogh, from Baroque caprices to psychedelism, not to mention the monomaniacs of Géricault, art is on this subject a real mirror as much as an accoucheur of talents.

The country in the spotlight is Italy, which this year commemorates the 150th anniversary of its unity (1861-2011), acquired with the diplomatic and military support of Napoleon III to the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and the monarchy of Savoy. Home to the arts, artists and art historians, it is thanks to its invaluable heritage that it has transcended its divisions and built a national identity shaped by culture. It is through the power of conviction of its art historians, of its heritage thinkers, that it was able to shine in the Republic of knowledge. So today I have chosen to distinguish three of his personalities as Officer of Arts and Letters.

Dear Anna Ottani Cavina,

You are a tireless traveller, a lover of both painted and real landscapes, shared between Italy, France and the United States. It is certainly not to you that I will learn that a landscape is not only a measure of space but also the vehicle of a feeling; that the landscape is, so to speak, a state of mind. We met in Rome, at the Villa Médicis more precisely, in this wonderful setting that made you love French art and where you met the first generation of art historians of the 1970s. Our meeting was placed under the patronage of François-Marius Granet, unfortunately better known for the portrait that Ingres made of it than for his works, yet remarkably subtle. Subtle yes, a bit like you Anna Ottani Cavina, because behind its academic appearance the painter’s work is a poetry at the service of the delicacy and fragility of the luminous atmospheres of this beautiful land of Italy and the Roman countryside.

In your profession as art historian, you have been able to follow rich and varied paths by showing the evolution of the landscape and the genesis of a modernity through the representations of the landscape: interior lights, lights of a gaping dawn between two-the worlds of Caravaggio and Caravaggio from the 17th century to the Landscapes that you call «of Reason» in Italian, French and European art of the 18th and Romantic periods. Landscapes that you admire, examine, study and which you presented a wonderful exhibition 10 years ago at the Grand Palais.

You are a world-renowned researcher but also a committed, passionate and exciting teacher and can congratulate you for having created a real dynamic of research among your students. Your love of transmission and sharing with the greatest number pushes you to create and manage the Federico Zeri Art History Foundation in Bologna, a privileged partner of the INHA in Paris, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the London Courtauld Institute.

Dear Anna Ottani Cavina, you have opened up bright horizons, the sky of French and Italian art is brightened under your aegis, but it is also the whole discipline of art history that appreciates your actions in favor of its renewal, recognition and dissemination of knowledge.

Dear Anna Ottani Cavina, on behalf of the French Republic, we present you with the insignia of officer in the order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Salvatore Settis,
You are one of the greatest archaeologists and art historians of contemporary Italy. A specialist in Greek and Roman civilizations, you have extended your field of study to the history of classical tradition and iconography in painting in Europe from medieval times to the 17th century, with a special predilection for Giorgione and Dosso Dossi. The enigmatic Giorgione about which you are conducting a fascinating investigation into the iconological mystery of the subject of a painting that caused much ink, The Tempest.

You are also an ardent defender of Italy’s present heritage, which you consider in danger. Your writings, often dreaded, in the galleries of Italian newspapers are a landmark and have inscribed the voice of an art historian in the public debate. You are a great European figure at the helm of prestigious institutions such as the Scuola Normale de Pisa and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Open director, builder of the bridges between the Normal Schools of Pisa and Paris, you have also been associated with the scientific research policy conducted at the Louvre Museum and have forged strong ties with the community of art historians and French archaeologists represented by Alain Schnapp, François de Polignac, François Lissarrague or Philippe Sénéchal. Today you are at the head of one of the European laboratories of excellence for the conservation of Heritage, LARTTE, Laboratorio Analisi, Ricerca, Tutela, Tecnologie ed Economia per il patrimonio culturale. You have played an important role in international heritage institutions, in committees of experts, not only for the defence and preservation of cultural property, but also for the improvement of research policy at the Ministry of Industry, Education and Research and finally, taking a firm and courageous stand for the quality and intelligence of heritage approaches, all too often threatened.

Dear Salvatore Settis, your commitment is exemplary. Thanks to your work, to your battles won against the scourge of time and negligent policies, the layers of time do not draw heterogeneous strata, worlds, eras intersect and build unity; the inner life is based on the same principle. You are a craftsman of time not segmented, divided and fragmented but long time. As a practitioner of this «dark abyss of time» pointed out by Buffon, you have shown us that the history of civilizations, the history of art contribute to an intelligence of our presence in the world.

Dear Salvatore Settis, on behalf of the French Republic, we present you with the insignia of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Rosanna Rummo,
You are a major figure in cultural cooperation between French and Italian cultural institutions. Neapolitan at heart, you are a convinced European and an assumed francophile. Your career in senior management is something to make anyone who would like to write your biography pale because it is so rich in meetings, responsibilities and initiative. You held important responsibilities in the Ministry of Public Education, then in the Ministry of Cultural Property, since 1999, where you notably contributed to the Franco-Italian film co-production agreement. You have curated large-scale exhibitions and cultural events in Rome, the Scuderie del Quirinale and the Palazzo delle exposizioni. From the Franco-Italian Theatre Days, implemented with ONDA to the exhibition Futurisme, implemented in partnership with the Centre national Georges Pompidou, your relationship with France is almost natural and constant. You translate here in Fontainebleau, on the occasion of this first Art History Festival, the artistic and intellectual complicity that unites our two countries, but also the Franco-Italian friendship that you have been implementing for three years (2008) at the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris with passion and warmth.

Dear Rosanna Rummo, on behalf of the French Republic, we present you with the insignia of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Let me conclude, ladies and gentlemen, by talking about the future and the upcoming Art History Festival. In accordance with the proposals of the Scientific Committee, I am very pleased to announce that another neighbour of France will be honoured. In 2012, the Festival will host Germany and I am delighted in this regard that the book by the director of the German Centre for Art History, Mr.Andreas Beyer, has been awarded the Salon du livre et de la revue d'art prize for its translation. As for the theme, it will be combined with the plural since it will be “Voyages”.

From Italy to Germany, this event aims to play its full part in building a Europe of culture, knowledge and knowledge. Like the Music Festival, like the European Night of Museums, like the European Heritage Days, I hope that this Festival will be a great European event, an event that can serve a certain idea of Art, Image, Memory, in other words a certain idea of Europe for the 21st century.

Thank you.