Known for their support to New Realism and to some of the most prominent figures of Free Figuration and Narrative Figuration, Pierre and Marianne Nahon were among the firsts to exhibit the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Larry Rivers, George Segal, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol in France. After spending nearly fifty years promoting avant-garde art through the acquisition of artworks representative of the main artistic movements from the interwar period to contemporary art, they have now decided to auction their collection. Art has always played a major part in the life of Pierre and Marianne Nahon. Initiated by the parents of his middle school friends Patrick Waldberg and Robert Lebel, who were Surrealism specialists acquainted with Breton and Duchamp, Pierre Nahon developed a passion for art as a teenager. At the age of 15, he acquired a watercolor by Picabia with his allowance, which marked the beginning of his collection and vocation.
He met aspiring actress Marianne Bayet when returning from the Algerian war, during which he learned fear and courage the hard way. On December 10, 1960, after they found a “situation” that allowed them to combine their family life and passion for art, Pierre and Marianne got married. They evolved in parallel spheres, cinema and advertising, for several decades until working together; and dedicated all their free time to their collection, sometimes at the price of their vacation, as was the case in 1963. That year, Marianne and Pierre visited the exhibition of Bernard Dufour at Galerie de l’oeil, rue Séguier. “I had already seen his work at Galerie Pierre Loeb”, explained Pierre Nahon thirty years later in Pour la galerie. “Our passion cost us vacations. Marianne and I spent half of that summer in Paris admiring the painting we had bought.”
At the beginning of the 70s, conscious that becoming art dealers or gallerists was the only way to fully dedicate themselves to their collection, they opened the Galerie Beaubourg a couple of streets away from the Pompidou Center inaugurated five years later. During more than forty year, from 1973 to 2004, their gallery was the stronghold from which they defended contemporary creation. Visionary entrepreneurs, Pierre and Marianne exhibited the most innovative pieces of their time and took great risks at a time when their artists were considered subversive: “visitors were aggressive and shocked that we could exhibit such horrors to the public” remembers Pierre Nahon about the first exhibitions of César’s compressions and Arman’s garbage cans, now featured in the most prestigious international collections.
On March 19 and 20, 2019, fifteen years after the auction of the Jardin Secret of Marianne and Pierre Nahon at Notre-Dame des Fleurs de Vence, Sotheby’s is happy to organize the auction of their collection. In one of the many books by Pierre Nahon –also a writer, as is his wife- the latter wrote: “Art captivates because it brings new, sensitive, entertaining, spectacular, engaging or simply beautiful visions.” 250 artworks that lived with Marianne and Pierre in Paris, Venice and Vence will be auctioned, 76 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. On spring equinox, a yearly symbol of renewal, Sotheby’s wants to pay a tribute to the commitment and vision of these two great 20th century art dealers.
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