The Art of Acquisition – The New York Times

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French illustrator Pierre Le Tan has accumulated a lot from an early age. Prince Albert’s tin box of cigarettes, a complete set of Japanese armor, neo-romantic and surrealist paintings, fragments of 15th-century Italian marble.

Le-Tan, who died in 2019 at the age of 69, was best known for his New Yorker covers, advertising campaigns, and hatch paintings and watercolors that often appear in children’s books. He spent much of his life in Paris.

He was also an avid collector of art and objects. “I own and confess to thousands of objects,” he writes. “Today, even if most of them are just memories, I will continue to search, find, and acquire.”

But Le-Tan was also a collector of other collectors and their collections in his way. He looked for people like him who couldn’t stop getting things. He turned some vignettes of his encounters with collectors into an illustrated book, “A Few Collectors,” published in France in 2013 and released in English by New Vessel Press in April. The book contains many of his paintings of collector’s objects, along with descriptions of the people who owned them.

There is a bankrupt ex-noble princess Brioni who sells her collection of paintings. In Rome, there is a quirky collector who puts a cool array of wax models of dead criminals in the basement. There are lots of fashionable abstract paintings and biberots in Parisian apartments and they sell well, but Mr. Lutan has a man who looked “out of the blue”.

And there is a man who just collects crumpled paper. “Light and Shadow,” the collector tells him when he wonders what interests him in the dissertation. The author is sad when his nephew undoes the work of his life and spreads his paperwork after the collector died.

Overall, these fragments of life show something about the strange urge to relentless takeovers, even if they are sacrificed. (Le-Tan himself often sold things to pay invoices and then bought more.)

“What I think is really fresh about this book is that he is very honest about the collection,” said New, who read the book in French and decided to get it for an English translation. Vessel Press co-founder Michael Z. Wise said. “He also doesn’t hesitate to show the downsides of obsession. It’s very honest, but for him and the people he portrays, collection is one of the driving forces of their lives.”

Le-Tan can tell this because it was such a driving force in itself. Andrew Strauss, Dealer and Art Specialist. Processed the 1994 sale of Mr. Lutan’s object at Sotheby’s In Paris, he explained that the collector’s approach is extensive.

Strauss described Rutan’s taste as “timeless.” “It can range from Egypt in 1300 BC to 17th century Persian rugs, Chinese furniture, 20th century art and first edition books.” Whatever it is, Rutan said. He said he had “great eyes”.

Of course, his eyes were often in tune with his illustrations. Whit Stillman, the director of movies such as “Metropolitan” and “The Last Days of Disco,” asked Rutan to create posters for movies and covers for novels.

“He has this balanced personality, and he was both an artist genius, but he grew up broadly and deeply,” Stillman said. “He brings a lot of humor to his work, as in the case of collector’s books. It’s this wonderful sense of humor in his work and everyday life. Being with him is a constant comedy. It was like. “

This book is also often interesting and capricious. There is a wonderful sideline that evokes his colorful social scene. [the painting’s] The owner of the New York party that Andy Warhol was attending, he informed me that the price had dropped in half. He is reminiscent of the lost societies and their characters in Paris, New York and Rome. But it also appeals to him, especially when he looks at lost things and his own possessions.

After Le-Tan’s death, much of his collection was auctioned at Sotheby’s and distributed as expected. He recorded another wonderful collection that collapsed after his death.

However, he impressedly wrote in “A Few Collectors” what he wanted to keep. Shows one of the marble sculptures he owned with his daughter’s troll doll. He also depicts his son Terracotta Eggplant.

“I want to keep only these little things,” he writes. Broken seashell. Rosebud … “

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