Yvon Lambert Moved to Tears At Inauguration of Collection Lambert Museum in Avignon

He made an emotional dedication to his daughter, Eve.

Yvon Lambert at the opening of Collection Lambert in Avignon Photo: © Burkhard Maus via Art Magazin

It was a visibly emotional event for veteran art dealer Yvon Lambert. On July 10, Lambert celebrated the long-awaited inauguration of the newly-expanded space of the Collection Lambert in Avignon with high-profile guests and politicians in attendance, including French culture minister Fleur Pellerin.

But it was a difficult birth that took nearly five years and included a tug of war with city officials, failed crowdfunding efforts, a last-minute postponement of the inauguration, and, finally, a cancellation by President Francois Hollande who was scheduled to attend.

When the 78-year-old retired dealer shut down his gallery in December 2014—not without first voicing his bitter dismay at the commercialization of the art market in numerous interviews—he most likely wasn’t expecting the adversity that he would encounter in the public sector.

Miroslaw Balka <i>Heaven </i> (2010) installed in the court of the Hôtel de Caumont. Photo: Photo VD / Le Figaro.

Miroslaw Balka Heaven (2010) installed in the court of the Hôtel de Caumont.
Photo: Photo VD / Le Figaro.

Back in 2012, Lambert made a generous donation to the French state of some 556 works by contemporary artists. His condition was that the work be exhibited in the city of Avignon, in the 300-year old, 6,000-square-meter double palace space that the collection now occupies—the Hôtel de Caumont, which opened with an exhibition dedicated to the work of the late French theater genius Patrice Chéreau—and the Hôtel de Montfaucon, which was restored by the architect brothers Cyril and Laurent Berger, and where a show dedicated to American Minimal Art (with works by Carl Andre, Robert Ryman, Donald Judd, and Sol LeWitt) is currently on view. Visitors move between the two historic buildings through an opening in the attic and a winding concrete staircase.

Staricase connecting the collection's two buildings. <br>Photo: © Burkhard Maus via <i>Art Magazin</i>

Staircase connecting the collection’s two buildings.
Photo: © Burkhard Maus via Art Magazin

“Eve is here, she accepted the donation from the beginning,” the otherwise reticent Lambert reportedly said holding back tears while giving a tribute to his daughter during his speech. “To give up a part of her inheritance, is pretty damn brave and generous […] I just thank her with all my heart.” It was a tissue moment for guests like painter Yan Pei-Ming, Sophie Calle, gallerists Daniel Templon and Nathalie Obadia, and elected officials.

German publication Art Magazin gave special mention to the “unexpected but perfectly staged artist dialogues,” like the one between land artist Richard Long and Christo. It also describes the homage to Chéreau as a “dramatic” demonstration of the connections between art, theater, and personal biographies.

Lawrence Weiner, <i>Ruptured</i> (1972) and Jenny Holzer <br>Photo: Courtesy Collection Lambert

Lawrence Weiner, Ruptured (1972) and Jenny Holzer
Photo: Courtesy Collection Lambert

The permanent hanging of Lambert’s contemporary art collection in the newly-acquired Hôtel de Montfaucon also includes impressive works by Cy Twombly, Nan Goldin, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Julian Schnabel, and works on paper by Bruce Nauman.

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