French venture capitalist Jean Pigozzi, renowned for his collection of contemporary African art—some of which will be shown in “Art, Africa: the New Atelier” at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, opened in April 26—planned on building a foundation and exhibition space for these works, reports Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper. “It would be sad if thirty years of work disappeared, and the 10,000-strong collection was dispersed, if I were to fall under a taxi one day in London. It is still incredible that neither the Museum of Modern Art, nor Beaubourg [the Centre Pompidou in Paris], nor the Metropolitan Museum of Art have a department of contemporary African art. In five years’ time, I want to create an [operational] space in Europe,” he said in an interview for Le Quotidien de l’Art.
Pigozzi started his collection in 1989, going to sub-Saharan African countries with André Magnin, a curator, looking for art. “I held myself to three rules: the artists had to be from black Africa, live there, and work there,” he said. In an interview for the “Art, Africa: the New Atelier” exhibition catalogue, Suzanne Pagé, the artistic director of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, said that a number of people have criticized Pigozzi’s collection though, as some of it seems to reflect a “neo-colonial approach that privileges handicrafts or self-taught artists at the expense of work that is more in line with the [scholarship] criteria of international art.”
“Deep down, what do artists care about categorization? . . . African artists speak to us about themselves, their society, their reality. This demands an open mind . . . colonization negated the reality of certain populations, and today the future of Africa is in the hands of Africans,” responded Pigozzi to the accusations.