Design & Decoration S02 ep11 : Axel Vervoordt, Vervoordt Gallery, [Antwerp]
Interview with Axel Vervoordt
Vervoordt: My name is a search for spiritual life inside you and you want explore and you want to
know more about it and you want to find words for it, the things you feel.
Vervoordt: I think in life it’s very important that you are very open and that you get very much and
quickly inspired by beautiful things or by real things or looking for harmony.
Vervoordt: I started collecting as a child when I was already busy collecting and at 14 I went by
myself to England to collect and so I always thought I had to, I needed a good business to be
capable to collect well.
Vervoordt: Discovering things and give them a better place you create something and you know
one plus one becomes much more than two. Through these objects it clarifies things in your
Vervoordt: Even a wild flower during a walk you bring it home and you put it in a most beautiful
vase it becomes like a jewel, even as a child you can collect stones on the river and bring it home
and it becomes like a sculpture. I think it’s giving by discovering, giving it more value and I think
that’s a lot of collection for me.
Vervoordt: There are collectors who want to have every item of that kind of that year, it’s not my
way of collecting. My way of collecting is I, objects who have a lot of peace and universal
knowledge who are timeless, who are always contemporary even when they are 4,000 years old
and those I collect and it’s more I collect them for their spirit, more than for their exterior material.
Vervoordt: I did business when I was a school boy for 18 already and I sent especially buying and
to make my own collection better I always bought a lot and then the best thing that M… gets and
then the other things even the very good ones I said I have to decide either I’m a collector or I’m a
dealer so and I choose to be a dealer because I think all the things I sell they in a way I keep them
in my mind so I still possess them a little. And I count you know going and buying better and
better things, if I will keep always the best for me.
Vervoordt: I only buy things I like, even the things I sell and all my clients become very, very
good friends for life so I build on their collections as well and it’s all, they’re all a bit my
collection you know I am not so possessive that I have to keep it all myself, I, mostly the things I
want to keep when I buy it I am so excited, wow, this is fantastic I will never, this is the first thing
I sell because I talk and I can’t just keep it secret, how beautiful it is and I want to sell something
which is less good, but I want to be very spontaneous. I want to be very spontaneous in liking
things, in discovering things, and also in selling them.
Vervoordt: There are great collections in France and in Belgium and people always had a tradition
of collecting things middle ages.
Vervoordt: I find today so exciting because there is the past and the present and the future in
already. I like this eclectic, I like that you can be interested in so many things. I personally would
not want to live only in the 18th Century in France or only in the 16th Century in Italy, I think it’s
very exciting to live today with the possibilities to travel to read, to do a lot of Egyptian pieces
next to a contemporary art.
Vervoordt: It’s always the last things I like most for example I just bought a beautiful white
Fontana in a menzona which are two contemporary pieces from the 60’s, I like, very, very much
but a lot of them are at the moment exposed in Venice in the Palazzo Fostuni where we do a big
exhibition, on … where the time is a great artist and also everything that’s timeless.
Vervoordt: Things that are ahead of their time. For me it’s absolutely one of the big things in my
collection and it started that way as well, when I was only 12 I saw an exhibition of Tengi of the
mobile sculpture of Tengi which were very expensive those days, I couldn’t afford it and the same
day I was able to buy a 16th Century iron chest, one … it was like a mobile and this gave me the
idea, I have to look for things all things that are much cheaper than the contemporary things and in
the way for me more interesting.
Vervoordt: I think a lot of objects choose their places who are great objects, they want to stay with
you or they want to come to you or they want to go away from you I have a little bit this
conversation with object.
Vervoordt: I just sold today the Met a wonderful object I sold several years ago, a huge vase in
boxwood all craft in the … most probably Antwerp around 1700 most probably a model for a gold
vessel given to Viversai or to Lecatorse and now we sold to a lot of big museums and the Met has
bought several things from us and … and also European museums and Japanese museums.
Vervoordt: I always did really state from the beginning as well but you know it’s the same way I
do it with antiques, I just try to discover wonderful things which, with restoring I make them much
Vervoordt: We have to discover with your knowledge what’s going to become much more
important in the future like for example I think archaeology at the moment is undervalued if you
compare it to contemporary art, and in the contemporary art all these movements around in the late
50’s, 60’s, after the War where everything was destroyed and this movement of zero with from …
and Manzoni, for me is very important and I still, I suppose I believe it definitely is as important as
Rothgow and Pollock, but the price are not the same level and then in Japan there was like this is
my latest discovery of the last five years is Shiraga, he is a Buddhist Priest and but he exposed
already together with Pollock and Motherwell in 1960 and I think it’s fantastic his work and these
are things you can buy now for less than half a million dollar and one day they will be much,
much, much more.
Vervoordt: Three years ago I think we did a big sale with Christies we sold thousands, because we
have a collection of 14,000 pieces and we sold thousands, was like this thick catalogue and we did
determine it was very, very successful.
Vervoordt: We buy all over the world I even buy in Japan, I even in buy in the States I buy in
England, but I have a lot of people all the time on the road to look for things or also people who
are there when there is a heritage or we also buy in sales the things we know better when at
sometimes sales are very irregular price, some things price go much too high and other things go
under the price. But you have to know very well what you’re buying in a sale otherwise it’s a bit
Vervoordt: I wanted to do for my 60th birthday a big exhibition during Beanale of contemporary
arts with antiques because I think a lot of antiques are still contemporary because their evolution
has not been interrupted, it just took 500 years to make how they are today.
Vervoordt: I have one cupboard in Vervoordt where there is a Picasso and a Jack O’Meti and a
piece of stone that I found on the street and even connoisseurs you know they are who made that,
but I especially did it because I didn’t put tickets, I said this is nature you know and it’s so
fabulously beautiful and also to children I love to say that you can always discover things
everywhere you know it should not cost millions of dollars to be beautiful.
Vervoordt: The art learns you to look at things, I think an artist opens your eyes you know he
makes, he puts an accent on something and with discovering that it makes you in nature in normal
life you discover, you look at things in a different way and I think this is the great present of the
Vervoordt: When I was a small boy and really younger beginner under 20 people like Yugel liked
me very much and Didier Renzo, Didier he made me come to the Beanale in Paris that was in my
20’s only and I had a big booth at the Beanale at the entrance of the Grand P… thanks to Didier
Vervoordt: We also have a firm with a big architectural department and we do a lot of homes as
well and because I want to create wonderful rooms for my art and I like architecture and I don’t
like the word commercial because everything is it or is not it, but for us everything we do I really
do it because I believe in it and I love it and it’s a real passion.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Axel Vervoordt, Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp