ANNE HUGARD, COLLECTOR
For this last interview of Re-Touch, we spoke with Anne Hugard, Parisian collector. After growing up and studying in France, she lived in New York for 17 years, before returning to Paris in 2018. She tells us about the beginning of her collection, and her relationship with it.
Breakthrough + "Re-" team: Hello Anne, thank you very much for your participation in our project. Could we start with a little introduction about yourself and the role that art has in your life?
Anne Hugard: My name is Anne Hugard, I am 46 years old, and I have been a partner in a jewelry brand for 17 years. Art, in my life, is an aesthetic experience. I like to surround myself with things that I find beautiful, and these are also emotions, memories, things that have touched me, moments of my life embodied in the artworks.
B + R: When you were little, was art also part of your life?
A. H. : No, I didn't grow up in a house with artworks. I didn't go to the museum with my parents, and they weren't collectors at all. This is something that I discovered relatively on the spot, mainly thanks to a friend of mine.
B + R: So when did you start collecting, and how?
A. H. : I started collecting in New York, when I was 27 or 28, with a friend who knew the world of contemporary art well, and who introduced me to a lot of things. I think at that age it's more instinctive, I saw a piece that I liked and so I bought it. I put less emphasis on it than I do today, it was like love at first sight. I hadn't thought about what the piece might say, or how it might fit into the history of a possible collection. It was just a moment shared with my friend, a discovery of the artist, something that I just liked. Today, this piece is important because it is the first, it is fundamental, but it is a little bit outside of my collection.
When you put your collection on the wall, you have themes that appear so obviously, but that you don't necessarily conceptualize them at the time of purchase, in the beginning. It's when you start to get a few pieces, seeing them hung up, that you have this realization of "Well actually, they all say the same thing!" For example, I have a lot of pieces that relate to childhood, and I was not aware of that when I bought them. Now I'm aware of it, and I play with it a bit, but at first I was totally oblivious to it.
B + R: And now that you're aware of it, are you trying to move away from that, or on the contrary, are you trying to create consistency in what you buy?
A. H. : I listen to my instinct above all, but it's true that if in what I'm aiming for there is a kind of resonance with this theme, I'm going to stick to it even more, because despite the passage of time, this theme remains something that speaks to me, that touches me.
B + R: We interviewed a psychologist earlier, Camille Vernhol, who gave us her opinion on the act of collecting art. She explained to us that ultimately owning a static object like an artwork reveals the changes within us, even though our view of that piece may change.
A. H. : Yes, and the point of a collection is also to present it differently. The installation is extremely important, it tells stories. You realize when you move apartments that you can tell different stories with the same works, just by making them resonate with each other in different ways. Sometimes you have to have the courage, even without moving, to rearrange everything! You see them in a completely different way. For some pieces, you even see them anew because they could have been in a place where you did not go often, where they were not well showcased...
B + R: How do you take care of your collection? And is this care taken from a conservation perspective, to show it better, or rather an investment perspective?
A. H. : For me my collection is not at all an investment, it is purely emotional. I take care, depending on the support of the work, to clean it without damaging it. But I know that there are certain works which will inevitably deteriorate. For example my ink drawings by Daniel Johnston have already faded, and photos can fade over time as well, but the alternative would be to keep them in storage, and I don't collect for that. I do the best I can to keep the parts from getting damaged. I wouldn't want that to add a dimension of stress, and it would especially reveal too much of their financial value to me, which is not how I see my collection.
B + R: What is your vision for your collection in the future?
A. H. : I would like to have the chance to complete it. I've never sold anything from my collection, but I wonder if I ever will, and what that would mean. I hang everything I have, so it doesn't make sense for me to accumulate until all the walls are filled. Each piece has its meaning, there are some that soothe me, others that motivate me.
B + R: Do you have any sights on a specific artist from whom you would like to buy a piece someday?
A. H.: Yes! There is an artist that I have spotted for a long time, but it has never really happened yet: Marilyn Minter. She is very feminist, she does photorealistic paintings, mouths with diamonds… One day!
B + R: Finally, can you show me your favorite piece, and tell me a bit about it?
A. H.: Donald, by Joyce Pensato, represents my life in New York. My ex-husband and I bought it in 2007 or 2008. It's Disney, the symbol of the USA, with that dripping, almost disgusting, a little scary side, that is America! But at the same time it's very aesthetic, recognizable, with a Pollock side. It's a piece that has real presence and real power. And Donald in New York, then Donald in Paris, that means two completely different things. Here it has a more appealing side, we can see all its texture, it takes up space. In New York, the way it was hung, it almost fell into the furniture. There was a more obvious side. In Paris, Donald with the moldings in the apartment is the story of my life! And in a time like today, even more so.
Courtesy Anne Hugard
B + R: We clearly feel that you have a very emotional relationship with your works.
A. H.: Yes, and for example the ones I chose to put in my room are the ones that are closest to my heart.
B + R: Do you have any that you change your mind about often?
A. H.: Absolutely, there are some that I wouldn't buy again today. But I don't regret buying them, they still have meaning, they make me smile.
B + R: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, and for showing us a little sneak peak into your collection.
A. H.: You're welcome, thank you!
This interview was conducted in French by Anna Lataillade.
Translation to English by Anna Lataillade.