Jean Pigozzi

Jean Pigozzi to Build Foundation for Contemporary African Art

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, opening April 26—is planning 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.