Design & Decoration S01 ep10: Bernard Steinitz, Steinitz Antiques, [Paris]
Interview with Bernard Steinitz
First of all when you make love with a woman , do you do it for yourself?. With art it is the same, you first buy it for you, to enjoy your life, to enjoy your talent and you make one or two that is fantastic as a new object because it is part of the discovery afterwards two or three days, it is put aside and…
I was sure when I was making an extraordinary object that first of all I need to
buy and after learn what it was. Not in the school you can learn, it is not
because you can read a book.
Being born in such a family you get lucky enough to be exposed very young,
and I was feeling at the time that contemporary would be more free or more
open than antiques. You can believe that antiques are a bit stuffy or a bit old.
If you look around you, you have some oriental piece, some French piece,
Italian piece, some 17th century, some 18th century. It is a completely wide
range and slowly, slowly I realised that it was actually more open than working
with contemporary because I am able to do whatever I feel.
When my brother and I were younger, we had some experience but rather with
contemporary world with emerging and living artists. I felt that this was a great
experience to start working with people and having the contacts with the art,
trying to communicate your passion. In our field it now it is even more exciting
to me because you have first your discovery, your passion which excites you,
then the understanding of what it is your discovery and then the
communication of your passion, so it is three phases, which are very exciting.
When you have a headache in your life you need art, and without art you keep
your headache and you have no chance to survive. With art you are in a
different world. People out of art cannot understand. Each of us has a personal
approach of art. It is like with a woman it is like with something else.
You have a personal sense and you love or you hate but nobody can
understand why. After that your eyes become more accurate, more familiar
and you open books, you go to museums and you see comparative things and
you understand why the object is fabulous or not. The discovery of art gives
you the desire to improve your knowledge. And this is the most important
thing; we need the notion of art like we need water each day.
When we think of what we call modern art… or the description of it is just
evolving decade after decade, more like Douchone, people like that. Anything
is art as much as you feel there is a passion, a creativity to it and you can
relate to it with a certain passion. I think an armchair can be as much an art
piece as a painting.
A real appreciation it is a permanent hiring of a big museum. They want to
show what they believe will be an eternal piece of art. Sometimes they are
wrong. Sometimes 40 years 60 years later they collect something for a lot of
money, people don't like it any more or people say it was not so good. So we
need to be cautious about the definition of art, but I believe that art it belonging
to the people alive and be cautious about the fashion. Fashion is destructive,
sometimes the fashion make art with rubbish.
You cannot explain why I don’t understand Picasso 40 years before and now I
see him he is a genius.
KM – 10 years ago the antique business was different to now.
KM – What has changed what has happened?
A lot of factors affect the mood. For example the fact that in America or in the
world in general more and more young people have sufficient money to afford
It was more than 40 years ago, more than them are completely out of the
KM – If you both go to an auction, do you pick the same pieces or totally
Yes this is a very good question because 98% when we go separately we
choose the same thing.
KM – Really, is that true?
It is the truth. Our life is not a lottery, you cannot choose like that or like that,
it is a sense of the accumulation of the experience, accumulation of
knowledge, vision, museum, meeting with interesting people, speaking with old
collectors, running all around the world. You accumulate a sense of what you
need and what is not good enough to go into your collection.
We have an important show in Paris, it is always very political and I think it is
one of the stories that made me want to join. With my brother we arrived the
day the show it was going to opened just after the betting. We see our father
with a big gilded bronze chandelier just about to smash it on the head of one of
his colleagues. So we run and we say stop it, stop it, very dramatic. The whole
affair started because of a small ivory and horn table that he thought was
fabulous, and he knew, once again it is all about that passion thing, he felt it
was great. Without really knowing what it was.
He knew it was early… about Louis 14th period about 17th century French,
and the reason something one of his colleagues who was part of the betting
which is kind of awkward said, maybe it is 19th century and not so important.
So just to have it in the show, swallow his pride, say whatever, just let me have
it. And a person from a very important American museum, from the Ghetty
Museum came over and before he even had time to argue a price or whatever
bought it right away. As it turned out a few months later after some research, it
was one of the only remaining pieces that we knew that really belonged in
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