Investor and Celeb Photographer Jean Pigozzi Is Searching for a Home for His African Art Collection

He owns more than 10,000 sculptures, drawings, photographs, installations, and videos.

Jean Pigozzi foundation
Jean Pigozzi attends "Art Afrique, Le Nouvel Atelier" exhibition opening at Fondation Louis Vuitton on April 25, 2017 in Paris. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Jean Pigozzi—venture capitalist, celebrity photographer, and avid collector of contemporary African art—reportedly has plans to open a massive foundation to home his collection, called CAAC Art.

“In five years’ time, I want to create an [operational] space in Europe,” he told French media, according to the Art Newspaper, referring to a place to safeguard his vast collection, which contains around 10,000 works.

Neither the Centre Pompidou in Paris, nor the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the MoMA in New York have contemporary African art departments, he pointed out.

While Pigozzi has never been to Africa himself, as artnet News reported in February, he worked with curator André Magnin from 1989 to 2008, who went on a country-wide search for artists.

“I held myself to three rules: the artists had to be from black Africa, live there and work there,” Pigozzi said.

His collection, comprising art by around 70 artists from 19 countries, is currently based in Geneva. The largest collection of its kind in the world, parts of it are regularly featured in exhibitions in western European countries.

Chéri Samba, J’aime la couleur (2003). Collection of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photo by Claude Germain, Primae.

Fifteen pieces are currently on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, as part of the exhibition “Art/Africa, Le Nouvel Atelier.” The works on display were created between 1989 and 2009 by artists like Romuald Hazoumé, Seydou Keïta, and Chéri Samba.

Since 2008, Pigozzi—who defines himself as a “bad traveller”—has worked with a separate independent curator, and has also begun to collect contemporary Japanese art.

The collector has been searching for a place to exhibit his prized possessions since as early as June 2005, according to a first-person essay published on his website.

“I hope that soon I will find a permanent home for my collection,” he wrote. “Any ideas out there?”

CAAC Art did not immediately respond to a request for more details about the foundation.


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