“I knew very early on that this was it for me and nothing else: drawing and my art collection.”
T he collection of Pierre Le-Tan, which Sotheby's has the honour of presenting in Paris, echoes the collector’s unforgettable personality, at once discreet and out of the ordinary. The man who made a name for himself with his covers for The New Yorker came from a background that was at once artistic, literary, international and Parisian.
A number of works from this ever-evolving collection were sold in October 1995 at Sotheby's London. Pierre Le-Tan continued to collect after that sale, more compulsively than ever, and with the same sharp and sensitive eye. This auction provides the opportunity for these diverse objects, reflections of Le-Tan’s unique universe and accompanied by some of his own drawings, to find a place with new owners who will appreciate them as much as this insatiable collector.
“Intensely, without hiding behind the primacy of great Art with a very capital A, and without false modesty, Pierre Le-Tan claimed his work as a “dessinateur”, a magnificent word, which refers as much to Plutarch as to the golden age of magazines…”
The Life and Work of Pierre Le Tan
“For an artist, nothing is innocent, above all one’s roots, a filial compassion for one’s father, a mixture of the Asian respect for family and the classical image of the Lares deities: his father Lê Phô was a painter who was born in Vietnam and died in Paris, a beloved city where he settled permanently in 1937. A major painter, far too little known in Europe, already revered in China, he alone carried a nostalgia in which Pierre Le Tan’s ancestry was steeped, both the real and the imaginary ones that would nurture his life and his work.”
"Pierre loved fragments: 16th century Oushak carpets, Roman bas-reliefs, tiles, vases, sculptures…Free, idle, freed from the task that fell to them when they were part of a whole, they were just themselves, magnificent layabouts. Together we could have founded a secret society, the secret society of the good-for-nothing fragments."
“I was interested, also at that time, in other "neo-romantic" artists, as the critic Waldemar George had called them; aside from Bérard, the principal ones were the brothers Eugène and Leonid Berman, as well as Pavel Tchelitchew, all three of Russian origin. In parallel (…) the poet-drawer-filmmaker Jean Cocteau, and many others shared in this same aesthetic, both melancholic and surreal.”
All quotes by Pierre Le-Tan are from Pierre Le-Tan’s Quelques Collectionneurs, Flammarion, 2013.