LUXURYCULTURE.COM - The Impossible Collection


A new book by Philippe Segalot and Franck Giraud - art advisors to some of the world's most important collectors - boldly curates the ideal contemporary art collection.

If money was no object, and all art was available to purchase, what would the ideal contemporary art collection consist of? It’s perhaps a question posed by some of the most prolific, wealthy and determined collectors – the François Pinaults, Charles Saatchis and Carlos Slim Helus of this world. Who better, then, to attempt to curate this “impossible collection” than the influential art consultants who advise these important buyers?

Philippe Segalot and Franck Giraud are those very art dealers, the sought after names that billionaires talk of in whispered tones. Formerly International Head of Impressionist and Modern Art and International Head of Contemporary Art, respectively, at Christie’s, they founded the Giraud, Segalot, Pissarro art consultancy in 2001 with Lionel Pissarro, the great-grandson of the painter Camille Pissarro. Their new book, The Impossible Collection, published by Assouline, selects the one hundred works that, in their opinion, represents the best of twentieth-century art. It is, as they say, “every collector’s dream.”

“We started by establishing the list, necessarily restricted, of the artists who, in our opinion, wrote this century’s art history,” Segalot and Giraud write in the foreword to the book. “We then selected the works by these artists that seemed to us the most emblematic.”

Ranging from 1901 to 2000, the 100 selected artworks include pieces by Kandinsky, Léger, Chagall, Rothko, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Koons and Hirst. Astonishing as each of these works is, what is most interesting is to analyze the specifics of the collection as Joachim Pissarro does in the introduction of the book. He reveals that the 1960s was a “watershed moment”, the decade most represented in the collection, with 28 works created during this period. He notes that Matisse is the most represented artist, with six works, followed by Picasso with four and Warhol with three. Thirty-seven of the pieces are by American artists, not including those who eventually moved to the land of opportunity. Most controversial: only 4 of the 82 artists included are women.

Segalot and Giraud are at pains to point out that the notion of the dream collection is highly personal and intrinsically subjective. Not only is their book a fascinating catalog of twentieth-century art, it also offers a glimpse into the mindset of great collectors. As they conclude: “Our one hundred masterpieces will not necessarily be your one hundred masterpieces, but nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to know this book inspired you to assemble an Impossible Collection of your own.”

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