an immersive installation of an imaginary collector’s apartment, set in Paris in 1968. Curated by Helly Nahmad, the installation has been designed by British production designer Robin Brown in collaboration with Senior Producer Anna Pank. A newspaper will be distributed from the stand with an introduction by Helly Nahmad and an essay written by Sir Norman Rosenthal.
‘Collected one by one over many years the works in this apartment take us on a journey through one man’s life and spirit. Like a private diary so intimate and personal, this collection is a mirror of the man. It calls into question what collecting really means in today’s world.’ Helly Nahmad, Founder, Helly Nahmad Gallery
Stepping into the stand, visitors will experience the feeling of having gone back in time, to an era when the world’s first art fair had only recently launched. An immersive soundtrack that moves from room to room sets the scene; Miles Davis can be heard playing overhead, cut with the soundtrack to Fellini’s ‘Dolce Vita’ and the Swingle Singers. Two small televisions – one in the living room and another in the collector’s study, play original programming of the French Winter Olympics and the Tour de France, alongside clips of the Parisian riots of 1968. Contemporary black and white films, now considered ‘classics’ by Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Felini and François Truffaut, play on a loop.
Revolutionary posters torn from the streets of Paris calling for ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’ line the walls of the collector’s apartment alongside exhibition posters and framed paintings. This period of tumultuous European history can be felt within the works the collector has brought together in his private collection, sourced while travelling across Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.
The scars of the 1st and 2nd World War are visible in the slashes to the canvas in a work by Lucio Fontana, burned plastic and pitting in a large work by Alberto Burri, and the painfully felt emaciated figures in a sculpture of three figures by Alberto Giacometti.
Each work seems to have been chosen entirely by the collector’s individual choice rather than a love of one particular movement, and reflect the developments across the art world in this period. Hints of a post-modernist movement and conceptualism appear in the most recent works on show; including one of just three Yves Klein sculptures created using oceanic sponge, found in the collector’s living room.
The apartment is filled with piles of curated gallery and auction house catalogues from important exhibitions the collector has attended. Stacks of newspapers and magazines are scattered throughout the apartment, including Le Monde, Paris Match and the famous art magazine of the time L’Oeil. The surfaces are cluttered with gallery invoices, cinema and exhibition ticket stubs, and collections of postcards, notes and receipts. Books on artists that the collector loves line the shelves.
Having been born in Italy and moved to France, the collector’s furniture comes from disparate places across Europe and each have the distinctive marks of Modernism. A curved wall dividing the apartment recalls the influence of leading Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. The collector’s desk is a classic piece from Belgian designer Willy Van Der Meeren, set against a backdrop of white walls and a parquet floor.