Daniel & Florence Guerlain. Copyright: Bertrand Rindoff-Petroff. Getty Images pour Guerlain
Collection of Florence & Daniel Guerlain at Kunsten in Aalborg
Q&A with art collectors Daniel and Florence Guerlain
Donation of Florence & Daniel Guerlain Kunsten - Museum of Modern Art Aalborg May 21 – September 4, 2016
In 2012, contemporary art collectors Daniel and Florence Guerlain donated their enormous collection of more than 1200 drawings by more than 200 artists to the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Kunsten has kindly been allowed to exhibit a selection of some of the most outstanding works that best demonstrate the artistic scope of the collection.
Artists: Silvia Bächli (Switzerland), Rina Banerjee (India), Marc Bauer (Switzerland), Ulla von Brandenburg (Germany), Erik Dietman (Germany), Mark Dion (The USA), Marlene Dumas (South Africa), Marcel Dzama (Canada), Vidya Gastaldos (France), Huang Yong Ding (China), Leiko Ikemura (Japan), Frederoque Loutz (France), Thomas Müller (Germany), Joyce Pensato (New York), Pavel Pepperstein (Russia), Javier Perez (Spain).
Joyce Pensato. Howdy, 2010. Fusain et pastel sur papier, 40.5 x 50.5 cm. Donation de la Collection de dessins Florence et Daniel Guerlain, 2012. Collection du Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou/ Centre de création industrielle. Photo : André Morin
In 2012 you made an exceptional donation of 1200 drawings to the Centre Pompidou. What was the selection process for deciding which works would go to such a notable museum collection?
The selection of the works for the donation was made by Jonas Storsve, the curator of the Museum’s Graphic Arts Department who came to our home, looked at the drawings, and found works present in the Museum’s collection by the same artists (for instance, Nancy Spero, which makes Pompidou the only museum in the world with so many works by her), or, on the contrary, artists that the museum had not thought to buy or hadn’t had the means to do so.
Nancy Spero. Me, Antonin Artaud, Born September 4, 1896 out of a Uterus I Had Nothing to Do With, 1969. Gouache, encre et collage de papier peint, 63.6 x 50.2 cm. Donation de la Collection de dessins Florence et Daniel Guerlain, 2012. Collection du Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou/ Centre de création industrielle. Photo : André Morin
Are there any unifying themes in your collection, be they aesthetic or subjective?
Before donating it to the Musée National d’Art Moderne /Centre Pompidou, we exhibited part of the collection at the Frac Picardie in 2008. At the time, its director, Yves Lecointre, discovered a line running through our collection that he called “the absence and the presence of the body”.
We ourselves didn’t have a sense that there was a line running through our acquisitions, which were either impulse or well-reasoned buys, but upon looking at them more closely, it’s true that it’s really obvious.
Jean Luc Verna. Sans titre, 2002. Transfert, rehauts de crayon de couleur et de fard sur papier. 26.5 x 17.5 cm. Donation de la Collection de dessins Florence et Daniel Guerlain, 2012. Collection du Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou/ Centre de création industrielle. Photo: André Morin
You have put together a collection of more than two hundred artists representing more than thirty nationalities. How do the works physically enter your collection? – Do you meet with the artists personally during your world travels, or do you purchase them at art fairs and/or through privately contacting the representing galleries?
We rarely buy directly from artists, even though we go to see them in their studios; we consider that the galleries do a good job in making their artists’ work known.
What are the impulses that you pay attention to when acquiring artworks?
Our donation of 1200 drawings does indeed include more than 200 artists of forty or so nationalities. We have acquired them over time, either by meeting the artists personally, or by discovering them in galleries or in other collectors’ homes.
We continue to buy because we couldn’t imagine living without artworks.
Mark Dion. Polar Bears and Toucans, 2006. Crayon de couleur sur papier, 26.2 x 30.4 cm. Donation de la Collection de dessins Florence et Daniel Guerlain, 2012. Collection du Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou/ Centre de création industrielle. Photo: André Morin
In 2007 you founded the contemporary Drawing Prize. What principles do you follow in selecting the winner?
For the Drawing Prize that we created in 2007, we set up a selection committee of six qualified people – three museum curators and three private collectors, including us.
We each bring informational files on the artists, and during the meeting we eliminate some of them and keep between six or seven.
We then go and visit their work in their studios, and when we return, we get together to vote and keep only three of them.
These artists are then presented to a jury made up of four foreign private collectors and five French private collectors, including us.
We all vote to select the winner, whose name is then announced at the Salon du Dessin in March, in front of an audience of friends and various figures from the French and foreign art scenes.
Vidya Gastaldon. Amour, gloire et liberté, 2009. Acrylique, gouache, aquarelle et crayon de couleur sur papier, 73.7 x 149.5 cm. Donation de la Collection de dessins Florence et Daniel Guerlain, 2012. Collection du Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou/ Centre de création industrielle. Photo: André Morin
Of the artists currently making a name for themselves on the world contemporary art stage, which ones could be said to have used the Drawing Prize as a stepping stone to their success?
Some of them have been taken on by galleries who have shown their work but, you know, the artists we select are already well-known in the art world. Our Prize is not intended for the very young; it’s more for those artists in mid-career who, through our Prize, become a little bit more recognized and exhibited.
How does the exhibition at the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg differ from the previous shows which were held at the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Sweden, and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Libourne, in the southwest of France?
This is the fourth time that part of the collection is on show – the first time was at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, then the Musée de Libourne near Bordeaux and The Skärham Watercolour Museum in Sweden, and now the Aalborg Kunsten in Denmark.
Each museum seems to make these drawings their very own, and even if sometimes they show the same works, the context of the hanging and the sensibility of the curators are so different that the viewer discovers a new universe every time.