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Pinault at Palazzo Grassi: What He’s Been Buying

“Where Are We Going?,” the exhibition of works from the François Pinault Collection at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice—which opened April 30 and runs until Oct. 1—includes many examples demonstrating that the French collector and owner of Christie’s has been a major force in the rising market for contemporary art these past few years.

LONDON— “Where Are We Going?,” the exhibition of works from the François Pinault Collection at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice—which opened April 30 and runs until Oct. 1—includes many examples demonstrating that the French collector and owner of Christie’s has been a major force in the rising market for contemporary art these past few years.

On the floor of the atrium is Carl Andre’s 33-foot-square 37th Piece of Work, 1969-1981, which Pinault acquired privately from the Crex Collection last year for $7/8 million, experts say. Pinault acquired three Mark Rothko paintings from the collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon; around that time, in May 2003, at Christie’s, Pinault sold Rothko’s No. 9 (White and Black on Wine), 1958, for $16.4 million; and Yves Klein’s RE 2, 1958, for $5.3 million (ANL, 5/27/03). Another private purchase was Cy Twombly’s ten-part painting Coronation of Sesostris, shown at the Gagosian Gallery, New York, in 2000-01, for $10 million.

Also among Pinault’s auction purchases: a six-piece floor sculpture, Untitled, 1966-67, by Donald Judd (1928-1994), for a record $4.6 million at Christie’s; Brice Marden’s Tour 111, 1972, bought in 2004 at Christie’s for a within- estimate $2.25 million, the second-highest price on record for the artist; Agnes Martin’s Leaves, 1966, purchased at Sotheby’s New York in 2003 for a record $2.5 million; Mario Merz’s Objet cache-toi, 1997, for a double- estimate and record £794,000 ($1.3 million) at Christie’s London in 2005; Bruce Nauman’s Henry Moore Bound to Fail, 1967, for a record $9.9 million at Christie’s New York in 2001, as well as a photo record of $533,750 for the artist’s photograph Light Trap for Henry Moore, No. 1, 1967; Luc Tuymans’ Lamproom, 1992, for £232,000 ($394,400) at Christie’s London in 2005; and a record $1.65 million for Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ plastic bead screen Untitled (Blood), 1992, at Christie’s New York in 2001.

Other auction purchases on view are: Damien Hirst’s large cabinet The Fragile Truth, 1997-98, bought at the Pharmacy restaurant sale at Sotheby’s London in 2004 for a record £1.2 million, or $2.2 million (ANL, 1/26/04); and Andy Warhol’s Mao, 1972, acquired for a groundbreaking £672,500 ($1,034,770) at Sotheby’s London in 1996 (ANL, 7/9/96).

The exhibition also includes new, specially commissioned works by Urs Fischer and Raymond Pettibon, as well as the premiere of a large sculpture, Hanging Heart, by Jeff Koons.

Other artists represented in the collection include: Alighiero Boetti, Maurizio Cattelan, Luciano Fabro, Dan Flavin, Lucio Fontana, Bernard Frize, David Hammons (several works from a recent show at Zwirner & Wirth), Keith Haring, Pierre Huyghe, Mike Kelley, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Paul McCarthy, Takashi Murakami, Cady Noland, Giulio Paolini, Claudio Parmiggiani, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Charles Ray, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Francisco Lo Savio, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Pierre Soulages, Antonio Tàpies, Piotr Uklanski and Gilberto Zorio.

Pinault took part ownership of the Palazzo Grassi with the City of Venice in May 2005 after plans to build his own museum on the Ile Seguin, outside Paris, foundered (ANL, 5/24/05). The next exhibition of works from the Pinault collection will take place in Lille, France, in February 2007. Consisting of video and photographic works, it will be followed by an Arte Povera exhibition in Venice later the same year.

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