A talk with Yvon Lambert
When did you start getting passionate about contemporary art? How did it develop?
I grew up in Vence, a small town in the south of France, where many artists gathered and where Matisse created the famous Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire. I guess I got inspired by this environment, as my passion for art began very early in my young age and I opened my first gallery in my hometown, in the beginning of the 1960’s. Then I moved to Paris, where I directed my gallery for more than fifty years.
How did you decide to switch from being the curator of your own gallery to focus permanently on publishing activities?
I’ve always loved books, I collect them, and I’ve always had a table with books in my galleries. Also, I published the first artists’ book very early, in the 1970s. After fifty years as a curator, I wanted to change and I decided to open this new space with my daughter Ève, which is a bookshop, a publishing house and a gallery at the same time, where I still invite artists to exhibit.
How would you describe your personal approach to art and how does it emerge from your actual practice?
Opening this new space was an opportunity to go back to the core of what I love: working with artists. Artists are amazing! As a director of a big international gallery, I sometimes had the feeling that people were only talking about money. In my new smaller venue, as a bookshop, I get a closer contact with artists but also with collectors, writers, poets… and we decided to make a book, a print or an exhibition together.
You have collaborated with several artists for Yvon Lambert Editions. What kind of relationship do you engage with them? Would you tell us an anecdote?
I spent my life surrounded by art and artists, and I became friend with many of them, but if I had to talk about one specific anecdote, it would be my encounter with Jean Michel Basquiat in New York, when he told me: «If I had to exhibit in Paris, it will be with you Yvon». A few years later, he came to Paris and did a beautiful show in my gallery. He sadly passed away only a few months later…
Opening this new space was an opportunity to go back to the core of what I love: working with artists.
You have recently worked with Mutina and Nathalie Du Pasquier on a limited edition book about Mattonelle Margherita. How did the collaboration develop?
I’m proud to say that I’ve been working with Nathalie for about ten years now. Of course I love her work, but we also became close friends. I remember about one year ago, she was talking to me with great excitement about this “brick project” she was working on and I had no idea what she was talking about. Last summer we went together at Mutina’s headquarters in Fiorano and I got blown away with what I saw! The collection she created with the company is great and, after a delightful afternoon with Massimo Orsini, we decided to make a limited edition together.
You are also well known for being a passionate collector. What do you usually look for in an artwork? Do you have a favorite piece?
My tastes in collecting are very wide, I wouldn’t be able to name one piece. I donated my personal collection to the French state and it’s on view at the Collection Lambert in Avignon. You should visit the museum to get a better idea of what I love.
Do you remember the first time you got to know Mutina? What did strike you the most about our company?
Nathalie introduced me to Mutina and its creative universe. By meeting the whole team and visiting the showroom, I could feel the love and respect they have for art and artists, and their involvement with creating high quality objects.
Are you working on any new special publication recently?
In the beginning of the 1990s, I created the «Bibliophilie» collection. I commission artists and writers to create special projects for these books, and now I’m working on the next two publications: one with Nathalie and one with Miguel Barceló.
In my new smaller venue, as a bookshop, I get a closer contact with artists but also with collectors, writers, poets....