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Interview with art critic Françoise Monnin

What path did Françoise Monnin follow ? How did she become editor-in-chief of Artension ?  

Artistes Actuels met her in her office to find the answers ! Our conclusion is : work plus resourcefulness, work plus tenacity, work plus passion and an incredible capacity for observation, sharpened by an immense general culture on art.

 Did the beginning of the 1980s create a fertile ground for culture and the arts ?  How did two individual trajectories lead to the Artension we know ? 

  • On the one hand, François Monnin, a high school student in a small town in Lorraine, was awakened to art by two art teachers,
  • On the other hand, the painter Pierre Souchaud creates a counter-power journal to official art : Artension ! A journal always driven by a critical spirit far from the fashions and commercial pressures of the art market.
    But how did these two characters meet ?

Françoise Monnin : art stronger than anything

Françoise Monnin is graduated from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in Art History and Plastic Arts. She wrote a thesis on the logic of assemblage (still unfinished to this day).  Since 1987, she has been a freelancer for the specialised press (Cimaise, AZART, MUSEART, Artension…). From 1997 to 2000, she became co-editor in chief of MUSEART, then from 2000 to 2009 she was a major reporter for Connaissance des arts.  

Since 2009, she is the talented editor-in-chief of ARTENSION. She has published numerous specialised works on art. She has curated exhibitions and actively participates in several art fairs and festivals.

Françoise Monnin expresses herself with passionate precision on current artists and works…

How did you get into the art world ?

In high school, suddenly the world changed for me. 

I came from a background where I was told, do what you want, but do it yourself  ! So I went to school while working as a supervisor to pay for it.


In class at university, I was next to a student who was leaving a position as a documentalist at the Daniel Malingue gallery. I asked her, introduce me !

Daniel Malingue thought I could have a try. I really wanted this job. I was preparing for the CAPES in Plastic Arts, but passing it would certainly mean having a job in the provinces. I didn’t want to leave Paris and especially the proximity of the museums ! Taking this job allowed me to live in Paris.


Daniel Malingue has an exceptional eye. It was fascinating, he was never wrong. One day, he left me with a Gauguin in my office for three days so that I could do a technical file. It was magical! I learned a lot from Daniel Malingue.

How did you start working at Artension ?

When I was an art history student, I used to type up texts and with my scissors I cut out images in the spirit of a magazine layout. I would send the whole thing to the editors of the art press… but it was never a success !


One day I wrote an article on the collages of Jeanne Coppel who was exhibiting at the Jacques Barbier gallery. The gallery reproduced this text in its invitation card. Pierre Souchaud, the founder of Artension, reproduced the invitation card in his magazine.


I was 26 years old :  I thought I had an entry ! So I called Pierre Souchaud. Since then I have never given up Artension ! That’s how it all started.  

How can you sum up what Artension magazine is ?

With Artension, Pierre Souchaud created an amazing and unique object. He was a painter and he had the idea of a counter-power to official art based on a magazine. That was really a stroke of genius. It had never been done in France!


Today, at Artension, we claim to produce archives for the history of art, that is to say that we have been keeping traces of what artistic creation is for 40 years and I believe that this is extremely precious.

The collection of the magazine is available for consultation at the BNF, Tolbiac building – Garden level – In shop – Department : Literature and art at the Reference : 4-JO-40249   

BNF notice :

Artension editorial office : an open space on outsider art

How do Artension choose the articles topics ?

Each year 6 issues and 2 special issues are published. There is not much paper space, so we have to make choices.


For the artists’ portraits, for example, I ask each journalist to come up with 5 proposals. During the editorial committee, we spend a day making choice.

We are 6 or 10 members, so there are between 30 and 50 files to look at. We look at everything and discuss it.

Everyone defends their artists tooth and nail… and it’s really exciting! 

Choice with experts debate, but..."I don't think that's going to be possible"

What makes a good art journalist ?

A good journalist is a sickly curious person, but he is also someone who is cultured to the point of obsession. To be demanding with an artist of today, you have to have a general knowledge of what has gone before. Because to stand in front of a work of art and be moved by it, anyone can do that !

For those who are passionate about art and contemporary creation, the bimonthly magazine is available at newsstands or by subscription. Activators of contemporary art, the magazine’s writers put the history of contemporary art into perspective.

Pierre Souchaud , founder of a free art journal

With a scientific background, Pierre Souchaud became a science teacher. In 1966, at the age of 28, he held his first exhibition. At 37, he decided to devote himself to painting.

His works can be found in the collections of the Musée d’Art Moderne of Paris city and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. 

In early 1982, he founded the art magazine Artension, which he directed until 2009. Pierre Souchaud is also an art critic, preface writer and author of numerous texts analysing and reflecting on contemporary art.

The end of 1981 was the time of the explosion of free radio: the end of the state monopoly gave rise to a creative explosion and the deployment of freedom of speech.

Wouldn’t Artension be the free medium of the visual arts in the same way as the free radio stations of the time? Indeed, the founder of Artension acted as a dissident in the art world today to break out of conventional patterns, to transgress imposed postures and to invent another way of looking at and talking about creation. Forty years later, the adventure continues with determination thanks to the art critics who make up the journal (read the article: Art Critic, a passion for art) 

The editorial team

The editorial team

Pleasure and emotion of artistic discoveries

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