Patrice Trigano puts his remarkable art-filled life up for sale at Christie's on June 5th.
"Each work of art holds a memory and it is my sincere wish that each will forge a powerful link with a new growing collection, under the eye of its new owner." Patrice Trigano
Paris-based art collector and gallery owner Patrice Trigano devoted his life to art at the age of twenty. Forty years later, his extensive private art collection reveals much about his determined journey over time: from his transitory obsessions with unusual mediums, relationships with notable artists to his unshakable passion for painting and sculpture. On July 5, Trigano will witness all 308 pieces from his wildly imaginative, varied and provocative private collection pass before Christie's auction block, while simultaneously hanging the "for sale" sign on one of his greatest acquisitions: his sculpted utopian home designed by the architect-poet Jacques Coüelle. Days before the Christie's sale, Trigano walks us through the highlights of his collection and explains the reasons behind his "scorched earth" approach to creative regeneration.
What triggers the desire to move on, to leave behind what has impassioned you for so long?
It's similar in a sense to the act of creating art. Art collectors don't express themselves with brushes or musical notes, but through their choices and regard. For artists, as soon as the tableau is finished, it no longer interests them. They're already thinking about the next one. The process was similar for me. I constructed a collection over forty years, and then built a house for it. The house is full now and interests me much less. I'm ready for a new adventure, to turn the page.
What does it feel like ending a huge chapter in your life?
The emotions vary throughout the day. At times I tell myself that it's completely stupid to sell everything because I'm not pushed financially to do so. There are part of the collections to which I am particularly attached, and objects that I can never replace. In that sense there are sad and melancholic moments. But then I realize how wonderful it is to have the chance to turn a huge page at my age, to experience a sort of renaissance and to start again with youthful energy and enthusiasm.
Why is your collection so diverse? My greatest passion has been to build collections that, in my head, are linked to one another. Each area that I've collected — prehistoric art, primitive arts, ancient paintings, photography, Barbotin ceramics, letters and manuscripts — has impassioned me during particular intervals in my life. With each I was following my desire with a kind of monomania. But the domains that I have nurtured continuously are painting and sculpture from the 19th century and the second half of the 20th century; they are the foundations, the bedrock of the collection.
What does your art collection reveal about you?
In the grand sense, the collection reflects my personality, but there are certain exceptions. The Barbotin collection, for example, is charming but I no longer recognize myself in it. However, 90% of the objects have a relationship with subversion, protest, or surrealism. The subversive mind, or intellectual anarchism is what interests me most.
Is there one artist that most embodies this spirit?
I'm particularly attached to Masson's way of thinking because throughout his oeuvre you find subversion, surrealist and erotic components, and a constant struggle between life and death, or more importantly love and death. There are many works in my collection that explore the movement of art within these themes. For example, in the house there's an "erotic salon" with the works of Philippe Higuily, a sculpture who created furniture in erotic forms.
In retrospect, would you have built your collection any differently?
I think that the collection that I created is the one that I needed to create. However, if the question were: "How do you plan to build your future collection?" I would refuse to answer. If I did, it would lock things in time. I want to use that time to reflect and to compose patiently.
What is it like living in an "inhabitable sculpture," your home designed by Jacques Coüelle?
It's wonderful. The great utopian architect-poet who built the house, Jacques Coüelle, dreamed of putting the garden in the house and the house in the garden. So there are so many things that make it unique. For example, the pool penetrates the inside of the house, the salon surrounds the pool, and from beneath the house you can see people swimming and the movement of the water. The house is very strange. I was very taken by Captain Nemo's concept of retreating to a house at the edges of the world, outside of time, like an inhabitable poem.
Do you ever think back to when you were 20 years old with your small savings and marvel over how far you've come?
Yes, but it's the logical development of what I set out to accomplish. I have had the privilege to live my life in the way I dreamt it. At 20, I already imagined things as they are now.
What are some of the most significant pieces in the collection?
From the market point of view, the most important pieces from the collection will be sold during the second part of the sale, at 21h00. They include an extraordinary painting by Lucio Fontana, a beautiful tableau by Max Ernst, two masterpieces by Victor Brauner, one large masterpiece by Matta, and an incredible tableau by Viera Da Silva. There is also an exceptional collection of work by Masson. There's an ensemble of monumental sculptures that's rather unique with works by César, Arman, Cardemas.
Examples of significant pieces that are perhaps less expensive but incredibly rare include: the portrait of Beethoven by Franz Von Shuck; an ensemble of five works by Eugene Carriere that will be shown together at the Musée D'Orsay in 2006. There's an extraordinary sculpture by the Armenian artist Kotchar. His works are incredibly rare, virtually impossible to find. In the primitive arts there are two dolls by Kachina that were originally part of Andre Breton's collection. In the manuscripts there are items with exceptional rarity, notably a bill for a session of psychoanalysis written by Freud to his client, Gustav Malher.
Collection Patrice Trigano, Itinéraire d'une Passion
July 5, 2005 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm
9 avenue Matignon, Paris