Pierre Le-Tan

A Few Collectors

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A box of cigarette butts cobbled together by Picasso, an etching of a Tiepolo painting … A collection opens up a vast or tiny world that one person has created out of a mixture of extravagance and obstinacy. In this unusual volume, the eminent Parisian illustrator Pierre Le-Tan summons up his memories: he evokes fascinating or troubled figures through an array of charming and curious tales. The book contains some seventy of his distinctive pen and ink drawings—many in vibrant color with meticulous cross-hatching. The text recounts remarkable encounters in Paris, on the Côte d'Azur, North Africa, London and New York, where Le-Tan's subjects have amassed a range of treasures—Roman statuary, Old Master drawings, Murano glass, Iznik tiles, Art Nouveau furniture, contemporary paintings and Chinese porcelain. Some chapters involve famous art world figures like former Louvre Museum director Pierre Rosenberg. Others are insolvent aristocrats, princes of film and fashion, expatriate dandies and flat-out obsessive eccentrics like a fellow who collects and painstakingly displays crumpled pieces of paper in his Parisian villa. Le-Tan devotes perhaps his finest chapter to himself. “The collection that I know best and that is the most difficult for me to talk about is obviously my own. It’s elusive. I have owned, I confess, thousands of objects. Even if today most of them are nothing more than memories, I continue to seek, to find, to acquire. Acquisition being, for some mysterious reason, the most important act, like a gambler throwing dice… Collecting is for me both essential and completely useless.”
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119 printed pages
Michael Wise
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