‘I do not see art as an investment at all.
That’s not to say that among the 5,000 works I own, some haven’t risen substantially in price—my Basquiat drawings for example—but that’s not my objective.
After all, I’ve never resold anything.’
The celebrated French fashion designer Agnès B [real name is Agnès Troublé, ed.] has long been obsessed by art and used to dream of one day becoming a museum curator.
Her start in life would decide another path for her. Nevertheless, in 1983 she opened a gallery, Galerie du Jour, named after the street in Les Halles where it was located.
Her first contact with an artist goes back further.
‘In Antibes, when I was about to get married, I was 16 and we met Picasso. He told me: “I’m 70 years older than you. You’re very pretty.” He was the first artist to kiss me.’
All summer long in Avignon, Provence, the Collection Lambert is showing 350 works from her collection chosen by its director Eric Mézil.
Always slightly mysterious, Agnès B announces she will be opening a foundation next year ‘in a working-class neighbourhood in Paris’, without specifying further details.
The fashion designer considers her two art activities, as a collector and a gallerist, to be disconnected.
‘They are completely two different things.
The gallery employs five people and represents 28 artists. I take care of choosing the artists and the hanging too.
Galerie du Jour enjoys the support of faithful collectors.’
The prices at Galerie du Jour, according to Agnès B, go from 500 euros to around 30,000 euros (for Massimo Vitali (born 1944), the successful Italian artist known for his images of beaches filled with bathers).
‘But I don’t buy all the artists from my gallery for my collection.
For the collection, I’ve learned to trust my instinct. I buy at auction, for example, or in galleries whose work I respect.’
When asked her feelings about the art market today, she replies: ‘Obviously the price of a Basquiat is exorbitant when compared to people’s purchasing power.
Indeed, the price of luxury is obscene.’
She immediately adds that her clothing label is not luxury (she calls it semi-luxury) and her clothes last a long time.
Agnès B remarks further that with time, artists she selected have left her gallery when success came knocking: ‘Artists like Claude Lévêque [today at Kamel Mennour, ed.], Nan Goldin, or Ryan McGinley [represented by Emmanuel Perrotin, ed.] left when they prices rose.’
As for her personal collection, Agnès B declares that she does not buy expensive works.
‘I prefer discovering artists early.
There are a few exceptions like Gilbert & George. I acquired one of their large photos recently from Thaddaeus Ropac.
I think they are very important. They cultivate a philosophical message. They like people.‘
The most striking thing about this collection assembled since the 1980s is the variety.
Nevertheless, one can find a clear fascination for youth, even images of misspent youth.
In the credits of the works shown in Avignon under the enthusiastic title ‘We Love Art!’, before their full unveiling in Paris, there are a lot of modern photographers like Brassai; Jean Cocteau, with drawings with a characteristic style; Isek Kingelez, the Congolese sculptor, inventor of dream cities made of recycled materials; the American filmmaker and creator of cinematic fantasies, David Lynch; as well as Harmony Korine, another out-there American filmmaker represented by the Gagosian Gallery and who will have a retrospective of his films at Centre Pompidou in October.
‘I probably have the largest collection of Harmony Korine and I was the first to show him,’ concludes Agnès B proudly.