The story behind Stephane Danant’s collection, at Christie's Paris on June 1
I'm making space!
Why would anyone let go of a hundred items from a collection of design and artworks that they have spent more than 15 years accumulating?
The fruit of long and dogged labour, of some 15 years of methodical research and a fascinating journey during which I had to learn all about an as yet unexplored area in order to identify and acquire all of these pieces as they were gradually discovered.
Any collection is a long-term undertaking requiring energy, time and money. It also requires lots of space. When you have the brilliant idea of starting a furniture collection, you need room to store it. Amateur furniture collectors use their collection!
They live with it.
Furniture is utilitarian, its functionality often takes precedence over any other relationship that one might develop with it.... But for the dealer and collector that I am, it was pretty much the other way round.
Each object, each piece of furniture was first and foremost seen as an element indispensable in demonstrating the talent and importance of each designer.
I do not think that I accumulated them simply for the pleasure of possession. I tracked them down, acquired and conserved them with a vision of assembling collections for monographic exhibitions in our New York gallery and a range of international fairs.
The opportunity for an ambitious personal project combined with a need for space and a desire to work differently have led me to consider separating from a good part of this collection and letting go of these pieces that have fed my passion and taught me about design during all these years.
This generation of French designers of the 1960s and ‘70s is only just beginning to be considered. It takes time to learn to recognise and appreciate the work of new creators, to be capable of distinguishing between the important pieces, exceptional and rare pieces, and differentiate from a production that is more industrial and therefore much more common.
Many of the pieces in this sale are one-offs or were produced only in tiny quantities. Some come from public commissions, some from the designers’ families or the designers themselves. Some models have been found only once since I set out on this quest.
Why hold the sale in Paris rather than New York?
It is a question of presenting here and now other important French designers who have marked their era and whose work has become timeless. I wanted to expose them to the ‘Market’ in the hopes of provoking something interesting that might reinforce my commitment to this generation and contribute to its recognition.
With the Demisch Danant gallery we have been working across the Atlantic for more than 15 years to promote creators such as Maria Pergay, Pierre Paulin, Joseph-André Motte, Michel Boyer, Pierre Guariche, René-Jean Caillette, Jacques Dumond, Antoine Philippon and Jacqueline Lecoq, Janine Abraham et Dirk-Jan Rol, François Arnal, Jean-Pierre Vitrac, Étienne Fermigier, etc. Most of them have become better known and respected over there than in their own country.
Predictable, if you think about the history of the French art and decorative arts market since the 19th century, but is it completely insane to want to invert the trend and refute the adage that “no man is a prophet in his own country”?
Answers on June 1st.
-Stephane Danant, April 23, 2021