Although the Maison Rouge closed its doors at the end of 2018, the Musée de Grenoble is holding an exhibition of the personal collection of its founder, Antoine de Galbert. Put together during the last 30 years of his life, it comes across today as one of the most unusual of private French collections. It is an implicit self-portrait of its author, for whom the art arena is above all one of freedom.
Image: Ben Vautier, dit Ben, Je n’aime pas jeter, 2015, Acrylique et objets divers sur bois, 133 x 141 x 29 cm, Crédit photographique : Célia Pernot © Ben Vautier © ADAGP, Paris, 2019
Although the Maison Rouge closed its doors at the end of 2018, the Musée de Grenoble is holding an exhibition of the personal collection of its founder, Antoine de Galbert. He was born in the city which gave rise to his passion for art when he became a gallery owner, an activity he then swiftly abandoned to devote himself to forming his collection. Put together during the last 30 years of his life, it comes across today as one of the most unusual of private French collections. It is an implicit self-portrait of its author, for whom the art arena is above all one of freedom.
Ben Vautier, dit Ben, Je n’aime pas jeter, 2015, Acrylique et objets divers sur bois, 133 x 141 x 29 cm, Crédit photographique : Célia Pernot © Ben Vautier © ADAGP, Paris, 2019
The exhibitions held in Lyon—Ainsi soit-il/So be it, Grenoble—Voyage dans ma tête/Journey in my Head, and Paris—Le mur/The Wall, gave people a chance to discover part of Antoine de Galbert’s collection, but the broad scope of Souvenirs de voyage/Travel Memories further reveals the collection’s coherence and wealth. Above all, it shows how a collection is more than an activity and a set of chosen artists: it is a particular re ection of a personality, a way of looking at the world, and also a philosophy, a sensibility and an existential quest. Antoine de Galbert was fond of saying, not without irony, that his “collection is an addiction”. Travel Memories, in any event, sheds light on the collection’s originality, which is very like its author, preferring the exploration of unknown territories to the art world’s best-known gures.
Louis Soutter, Parvis, 1937, Encre sur papier 44,1 x 58,2 cm, Crédit photographique : Jochen Littgemann, Berlin/Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve Paris, Köln, St. Moritz
Like nothing less than an inner journey, in some twenty rooms Travel Memories retraces the collector’s elective a nities, his passion for contemporary art, and his liking of sidelines, art brut, and ethnography.
Paintings, drawings, photographs, installations, primitive art, and religious and po- pular objects are all on display in an intimate setting, where major gures of mo- dern art like Schwitters, Ben, Boltanski, Laib and Fontana rub shoulders with youn- ger generations (Cathryn Boch, Mathieu Briand, Steven Cohen, Hubert Duprat, Philippe Gronon, John Isaacs, Edward Lipski, Mari Katayama, Stéphane Thidet, and the like), along with other artists who are hard to pigeonhole (A.C.M., Aloïse Corbaz, Augustin Lesage, Willem Van Genk).
From the collector’s activity to the imagination of cities, from Anglo-Saxon and Bel- gian art scenes to Africa, from madness to the “body in pieces”, from zen to ecolo- gy, by way of a daydream about the cosmos and the “ nal journey”, like a “gent- le and luxurious therapy”, to use his own words, Antoine de Galbert’s collection sheds light on his fondness for decompartmentalization, while at the same time re ecting his deepest obsessions. Running counter to an at times austere and clinical vision of contemporary art, this collection does not shrink from creating a dialogue between conceptual art and popular cultures, and between the advo- cates of art brut and emerging artists. By trying to get beyond restrictive theories and an art history that has been all mapped out, by doing away with boundaries and encouraging a mixture of genres, Antoine de Galbert likes blazing a trail well o the beaten track, reckoning that the age we are living in needs magic, mystery, simplicity and universality, more than ever.
Musée de Grenoble, France
Travel Memories. The Antoine de Galbert collection
27 April - 28 July, 2019
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