His Excellency the Minister, dear Xavier Darcos, President and Director General of the Louvre Museum, dear Henri Loyrette, Director General of the National Institute of Art History, Antoinette Le Normand Romain, Dear Master, dear Pierre Rosenberg, dear Louis, Laurent and Charlotte Chastel, Dear friends,

We are gathered this evening to celebrate the memory of a humanist, who throughout his life was animated by the ambition and taste of the Renaissance which he made his object of study; a man for whom the temptation of Italy met admirably with the love of French art, a man for whom visual documentation was an irreplaceable instrument of knowledge, as evidenced by the very rich photo library now preserved by the André Chastel Centre. I would like to thank all the institutions that made possible this evening of tribute: the Louvre, the National Institute of the History of Art (INHA), the National Institute of Audiovisual (INA) – which made it possible to gather the archive images - and I wish to recall my sincere and warm affection for Louis, Laurent and Charlotte Chastel. Without them, without their will and commitment, we would not be here tonight and the Chastel Year would not have been born.
Beyond the anniversary date, it is indeed necessary to grasp the features of the researcher in art history but also to understand man. To commemorate is not to celebrate, it is also to draw lines of life and reflection so that our memory, that the memory of a man and his commitments in this case, can help to chart the future prospects.
Like every «honest man» and every demanding intellectual, André Chastel’s journey is a lonely one; but his achievements have now become collective references. Born in 1912, André Chastel was a curious spirit, eager for everything, from Leonard to Vasari, from Cardinal Louis d'Aragon to Marsile Ficin. But he did not disdain the discovery of America, which enabled him to reaffirm his French and European roots. An admirer of Mérimée’s inspections, viscerally attached to the national heritage, the most remote as the most obvious, he nevertheless loved the creation of his time by endeavoring with great pleasure to rub shoulders with the living artists of his time, in the image of Zao Wou-Ki or Nicolas de Staël.

The other characteristic of André Chastel was his passion for teaching. Professor at the university and then at the Collège de France, member of the Académie de Inscriptions et belles-lettres, he was able to enthuse many generations of students. What strikes us when we see him, when we listen to him, is the tone of his speech. Great master and teacher, his pause in speech reflects this sitting of knowledge without postures. It gives off an energy of transmission and an obvious pleasure to share its work. In addition to his extensive and scholarly research, both in detail and in general, André Chastel has always been curious about his time by taking part in the debate of ideas. His commitment to the issues of his time was complete and passionate. His columns in a major national daily reflect this perfectly.
In this perspective, André Chastel was also a man who was committed to cultural institutions. What would Villa Medici be today without the Malraux reform which, thanks to Chastel, introduced the history of art and the restoration of works? What would French heritage be without the creation of the General Inventory - Magnificent creation that has highlighted heritage buildings and places of memory for the French provinces? What would the history of art in Europe today be without the National Institute of Art History that he so ardently desired? So many institutions, so many individual paths that owe to André Chastel their existence. He was able to see in this discipline, which was until his time reserved for a social elite, concrete ramifications today indisputable. He was probably one of those who best understood that this discipline was fertile for the life of the city, that it could only make better understand the world of artists and that of creation.
His insights, his tremendous achievements have been deepened, continued, and some initiatives of recent years are clearly inspired by the great Professor he was and remains.
André Chastel has indeed drawn perspectives that still leave lines of leakage. We are guarantors of a heritage left by previous generations, and we must constantly ensure that we maintain this attention to all our heritages by being attentive to their diversity and their uniqueness. Thus we can only rejoice at the decision of the President of the Republic to entrust to the Louvre the management of the cultural and heritage project for the Hotel de la Marine, accompanied by other institutions such as the Mobilier national, another magnificent French institution that guarantees the history of art and creation.
André Chastel was also concerned about the transmission of knowledge of the arts to younger people. For the past two years, with the support of the High Council for Arts and Cultural Education, compulsory education in the history of the arts has been offered at all school levels, and a test is now registered in the college certificate: a milestone has been reached. This reform was largely accompanied by the services of my ministry, with courage and resolve. And since October 2009, the result of a very large mobilization of actors, a portal «History of the Arts» has been set up, which makes available to teachers more than 3,000 digitized sheets, benefiting from a presentation for a year by territory.
Chastel had also brought the idea of creating a research institute in art history. The INHA, whose ten-year anniversary we celebrated in the autumn, has fully taken its place in France and Europe in international research and cooperation. The creation of the large art history library on the Richelieu site will make Paris one of the European capitals of art history next to Rome, Berlin or London. Chastel had imagined it in 1983. It is therefore at the end of a long journey that this beautiful idea took shape, with the creation of the INHA, but also with the installation in the center of Paris, rue de Richelieu, of a vast complex dedicated to the history of art, where the old national library was based. Supported by the BnF’s specialized collections and the Ecole des chartes, INHA composed this original «Carré des arts», where it will present its important collections at the end of 2014, around the prestigious Labrouste room. The major renovation project of the Richelieu Quadrilateral, by federating around a library the energies and means of French research institutions in art history, will fully fulfill the wish formulated by André Chastel almost thirty years ago.
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 INP, the INHA, not forgetting universities and research centres, which are increasingly open to international exchanges and excellence projects. I wanted to visit each of these institutions, I wanted to visit the places and meet the actors to better understand their expectations.
Finally, Chastel has always been open to the widest public, believing that culture should be shared by the greatest number. It is in this spirit that we created the Festival d'histoire de l'art de Fontainebleau with the support of the castle team and the INHA. 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 school levels has now taken shape. With nearly 15,000 visitors, this first edition was a success. In the twenty-first century of All-images, in this incessant flood of icons, simulacres, visual figures, 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? On June 1, 2 and 3, Fontainebleau will host Germany. As for the theme, it will be combined with the plural since it will be «Voyages».
In other words, Chastel’s actuality is also the actuality of a history of art open to social demand, open to the City, open to contemporary questioning on the object, on the image, on the new media. Cultural consumption is one thing, but the knowledge of art, the education of taste and the thought of art are more steep paths, indispensable however to the formation of the individual and the enlightened citizen. The history of art is nourished by other approaches: the history of the visual object, its materiality, but also literature, philosophy, anthropology or 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. I am pleased in this regard that despite the difficulties encountered by our public finances, and unlike many European partners, the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Communication has not been used as an adjustment variable, even if it has been protected. Our know-how in terms of restoration, heritage policy, preventive conservation, our vitality in terms of festivals and contemporary creation are also a response to the crisis. Chastel understood it well.
In short, why honour André Chastel? Why bring an art historian into the national commemorations for this year 2012 for the first time? Beyond man, it is a discipline, a form of intelligence in the world that seems indispensable to us today. The art historian suffers from a lack of recognition by the general public. This is not the case in Germany – think of Hans Belting – think of Italy – think of Federico Zeri – to name but a few. Like an artisan, he works in patience, in the silence of archives, libraries, drawing cabinets or collections of museums and collectors. The art historian sacrifices himself to silence and to the time of study, in contrast to the contemporary dictates of speed. It serves the «music of silence».
During the year that I was director of Villa Medici and then minister, I met many times these admirable and passionate personalities. Lovers of beauty who, in the face of the imperatives of visibility, remain the guarantors of a transmission, solid because it gives the fundamental tone of what the culture of tomorrow will be. Each time, I was moved by these fervors so little recognized. Academics, heritage curators, teachers, publishers and booksellers, collectors and gallery owners, and generally all art enthusiasts, all work in our “imaginary museums”. My action consists in opening even more the doors of the real museum to them - because it is not public policy and cultural democratization without deepening, without education of the senses and the look. In this regard, I am delighted that, on the occasion of this anniversary, new publications are emerging and that many academic and scientific initiatives are flourishing, particularly at the INHA with the important symposium organized in December, in conjunction with the André Chastel Centre, under the responsibility of Michel Hochmann and Sabine Frommel. Other initiatives will take place at the Académie de France in Rome, a place inhabited by the spirit and figure of the Professor and the Master.
Art history has its place in a world that has made the image – including the image of oneself – a fetish. 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. It can help 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.
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. Image education, in a world characterized by bombardment without order, without intelligibility, without hierarchy, is more than a requirement, it is a necessity. Today more than in the past, to make understand the construction of an image, to understand that it is not reality but that it is the sometimes scholarly construction of a discourse, these are the ways of an education in culture.
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. To preserve and transmit, this double mission assigned to him says enough about his social role but also the imperious necessity of his mission. It was the sense of commitment and passion that motivated André Chastel.

I will now give the floor to the Master of Ceremonies, Pierre Rosenberg, whose dedication and passion for this discipline are well known.