What I Buy and Why: Hispanic Society Director Guillaume Kientz on the ‘Nerdy’ Purchase He’s Proud Of and Which Young Artist’s Work He Is Eyeing

The New York museum chief shares his art-filled Washington Heights home.

Guillaume Kientz, CEO and director of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, New York.
Guillaume Kientz, the CEO and director of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, New York.

We caught up with Guillaume Kientz, who was named the CEO and director of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in early 2021. He was formerly the curator of European art at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and for nine years prior to that, he served as the curator of Spanish and Latin American art at the Louvre in Paris. Kientz is currently spearheading the Hispanic Society’s restoration and renovation efforts. The multi-year plan will see the museum’s main building reopen this March.

He is also gearing up for “A Masterpiece in the Making: Joaquín Sorolla’s Gouaches for the Vision of Spain,” the museum’s exhibition marking the centennial of the artist’s death, which is being staged in collaboration with the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park where it is being shown. The show is due to open on January 17 and runs until April 26.

Guillaume Kientz's home

Guillaume Kientz’s home. Image courtesy of Guillaume Kientz.

Kientz, who resides not far from the museum, in an art-filled apartment in Washington Heights, told Artnet News about what drives his own collecting.

What was your first purchase?

I sold an Italian 17th-century pastel for a French 19th-century one. I paid €100 for it and still have it.

A wall including French 19th-Century paintings in Kientz's apartment. Image courtesy Guillame Kientz.

A wall featuring French 19th-Century paintings in Kientz’s apartment. Image courtesy Guillame Kientz.

 What was your most recent purchase?

A painting by a [17th-century] French anonymous artist, “The Procession Master,” who was in the direct entourage of the Le Nain brothers. How much nerdier can one get?

Marti Cormand, <i>They Might Be Giants</i> (2020).

Martí Cormand, They Might Be Giants (2020).

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

A work of art by a young Spanish artist from Brooklyn called Martí Cormand.

What is the most expensive work of art that you own?

In terms of what I paid or what it’s worth? It’s worth the moon if I like it.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

I buy most of my art online or by browsing galleries for hours!

 Is there a work you regret purchasing?

Yes, I resold it for the exact same price a few years later. It was a work depicting the Holy Family by 18th-century French artist Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée. I just didn’t like it.

Claude Dalbanne, <i>Dolor</i>. Image courtesy Guillaume Kientz

Claude Dalbanne, Dolor. Image courtesy Guillaume Kientz

What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?

A very large painting by French painter Claude Dalbanne entitled Dolor sits above my sofa. Art rarely gets along with humidity.


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