Design & Decoration S01 ep3: Anne Lahumiere, Geometric Art, [Paris]
Interview with Anne Lahumiere
This is the worst part of my business. I hate it when they come and they come full of hope, they want you to look at their pictures, they want you to see what they do, they want some… I mean some are more prudent than others, they say, "I would like some advice" and then you start out and advise that you can tell them how terrible it is.
What is Anne Lahumiere? I mean it’s a gallery, it’s maybe a spirit, it’s maybe a
certain idea of art – it’s all of that.
While I was 15 or 16 I had a long illness and in hospital I had some very nice
sisters and they gave me books on art. And I guess that’s how it started
actually, after that I met artists in the nearby village and I think that was the
beginning of being busy with art.
I had a friend, she was a painter, and through her I heard of names that I had
never heard before. I am thinking of the collector William Uder, for example he
was the first to discover Picasso and he discovered the whole Naive school
and Henri Rousseau and people like that.
KM: Was he based in Germany?
Uder was a German critic and collector and a great discoverer of art and
artists. So then I bumped into people from Worpswede - it is one of the big
villages with an artists called Paula Modersohn-Becker. Modersohn-Becker is
one of the great Expressionist Artists in the north of Germany.
KM: When did the transition happen from secretary to actually being involved
in the art world?
Actually fairly late. In Paris I met a German artist who was living in the same
building as us, I was living on the 6th floor - a man called Gunter Furtronk put
me onto a French Gallery and I worked there for a year and then in 1963 my
husband and I decided that we would like to open our own place and that is
where it all started.
KM: Why open a gallery?
We just thought it was a business like any other business but it was a very
hard business. Selling the arts is something I call them my potato and noodle
KM: What really gets you excited!
I mentioned before Modersohn-Becker. I think that she is a woman who
caught, with very, very small means, the spirit of people she painted. I haven't
known this man behind me, Ugest Erber, but I feel that his life was dedicated
to art, he was dedicated to his art, and that the art reflects that dedication - he
still is not very well known but he has like 10, 15, 20 people since 50 years that
follow him, that worshipped him. These people who are artists that think he
was the man they could trust to push a certain art further.
KM: Why do we need to iconise artists?
You are talking about Warhol, I don't think of him as an icon at all. For me
Warhol is a perfect example of publicity. He’s probably did something very
important but I think that today it is overdone and he didn’t want to be an icon,
he just lived a very crazy way of life and people liked that.
I think the most important for Joseph as Gallerist is to feel well with the art you
handle. An artist is like what he paints and I felt very, very comfortable with
conservative people - they were very straightforward.
You don't need to fight when you buy art, if you have to fight to buy art, you
have to fight to sell it and then you have to fight to get paid, so I think you have
to exclude as many fights as you can.
There should be something that gratifies the work of the gallery. We go to the
atelier, we exhibit the artist not once but sometimes, 10, 15, 20 times, we do
the catalogues, we do the invitations, we know the work, from day go, we work
with this artist maybe 10 years, maybe 20 years, maybe up to his death and
KM: So what you are really saying in some respect is that the gallery is the
one that goes to all the trouble of developing a market, which the auctioneers
are taking advantage of.
There is nothing what we call spontaneous in art - never! I mean all the
Damien Hursts of the world go back to Duchamp, but sometimes an artist who
takes something from another one does it and does it better. Picasso and
Brach - Brach invented it but Picasso was the better cubist.
Some of the artists today are squeezed out. One of my younger artist thank
God he is sitting in the mountains I leave him the time to think about the art, to
develop the art, and you feel it in his pictures. The artist I have in my gallery
right now killed himself in 1981 - he had no echo whatsoever in the 70s: he had
broken up with a certain art he was doing in the 50s where he was quite
successful, then he had a white period. He went back to colour and nobody
wanted that art, nobody liked it, and he was highly spiritual. And in at one
point in time he couldn't bear the pressure anymore - the non-pressure, the
void, there was no answer. There are the two things and it has to be balanced
- some people have to like the art that somebody does, the collector is the eye
and the recognition for the artist that he does something important.
It is difficult to explain art. I first tell my collectors that they should look
museums all the time, I think finally when a piece shows up in a museum,
mostly anyway, it has gone through a lot of filters - there is the gallery that has
chosen it, probably a collector who has collected it, then the museum comes,
so it’s already at least three different judgements. It finally ends up in the
museum, so I tell them have a look at the museum and in the museum you
choose what you like.
Art is knowledge; art is like hearing a new piece by Stockhausen or Boulez. It
is something that you form your eye, you educate your eye. That is why I am
always telling my Cultural Minister in France, the child has to see art; the child
has to go to the museum. Not drawing themselves, but look at art and look at
what we consider our heritage our cultural heritage and absorb that and then
they have a possibility to make their own judgements.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Anne Lahumiere, Geometric Art, Paris