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The collection of the heart of Georges Bemberg
la-collection-du-coeur-de-georges-bemberg - ARTACTIF
April 2024 | Reading time: 22 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the reopening of the Bemberg Foundation in Toulouse.

Head to Toulouse! Does this tempt you? After three years of work, the Bemberg Foundation reopens its doors, nestled in the Hôtel d'Assézat, one of the most famous Renaissance monuments in the pink city... and watch your eyes: no fewer than five paintings by Lucas Cranach and more than thirty works by Pierre Bonnard hold out their arms to you! Among other things... Even if you are more into the contemporary art market, because you like buying works of art and they will surely never adorn the walls of your living room, frankly, it's worth the detour, no ? What's crazy is that despite its exceptional collection, the fruit of the emotion and intuition of a discreet collector without an heir, born in the 1980s from a desire to pass on, the Bemberg Foundation does not talk more about her. There is no doubt that the communication around the renovation which has just been completed will give all of this a good boost.

The collections of the Bemberg Foundation are in fact made up of an exceptional collection of paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, furniture and objects of art, covering more than five centuries of artistic creation from the 15th century to the Second World War. “At the origin of this institution is the discreet personality of Georges Bemberg, born in 1915 in Buenos Aires in a (rich) family of industrialists from Germany,” explains Jean-François Lasnier, in his article for the February Connaissance des arts magazine. “Impregnated with European culture, and French in particular, this music lover gave up a career as a composer and turned to literature. We owe him several novels and plays. » It must be said that Georges Bemberg studied comparative literature at Harvard at the same time as he took piano lessons from Nadia Boulanger. His taste for writing having won, he led him to frequent the pioneering literary circles which allowed him to meet Roger Caillois, Ortega y Gasset, Denis de Rougemont, Saint-John Perse, Jorge Luis Borges... who would become his friends. Alongside his literary career – short stories, essays and Off Broadway plays – he began a collection of art objects in New York which he continued to enrich.

I cannot give you my opinion on his literary qualities, because I have not yet read or heard anything by Georges Bemberg, even if now, in fact, I really want to find some work to satisfy my insatiable curiosity... N 'stop. The journalist from Connaissance des arts does not take it lightly: “one would be tempted to say that his major work is his collection”. Ok. It smells like banana peel. I don't want to be a bad tongue, but I hope he has read Bemberg because otherwise his assertion would sound a bit like an unjustified ax. But let’s move on from the literary qualities of our collector, we are here to talk about a French museum which is still one of those little-known gems. The inauguration of the Bemberg Foundation in the Hôtel d'Assézat in 1995 in Toulouse was the opportunity for Georges Bemberg to see a large part of his collection brought together and presented in the same place, for the first time in his life. the crossroads of the arts. And that must have given him an emotion that brought tears to his eyes, he who, as I told you above, found himself without a direct heir and had only one desire: to share his collection of masterpieces. work unheard of by the greatest number of people. But especially not in Paris. The Assézat private mansion was love at first sight. “In a few seconds, my decision was made, it’s that or nothing,” he liked to recall. “There was such an affinity, such an agreement, such harmony between what I saw and what I felt within myself…” Yes, that’s how Georges Bemberg worked.

“Obeying a sort of family atavism, Bemberg began acquiring works of art when he was not yet 20 years old and continued this activity until his death in Paris in 2011,” Jean-François points out to us. Lasnier. Common custom among wealthy and cultured people, you might say. Except that usually, these collectors having little to worry about the economic vicissitudes of the art market entrust specialists with the task of sponsoring their purchases of works of art, driven rather by the sole pleasure of the art market. investment, or even ownership. However, Georges Bemberg is not one of them. He does not call on experts to find out whether the price of one or the other artist is likely to rise, or on the contrary to collapse. He buys the works of art he likes. This seems obvious when you are not rich, but as I told you, here we are in a (very) wealthy environment. So there you have it, this cultivated scholar relies when buying works solely on the emotion he feels in front of a painting, in front of a sculpture, in front of a piece of furniture... For him, there is no separation between the arts. And I don’t know about you, but that immediately makes him eminently more sympathetic to me than an investor! I imagine this charming gentleman devouring The Age of Brass, by Auguste Rodin, or Countess Kagenek portrayed by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, saluting The Falconer by Véronèse, melting in front of the Portrait of a Little Boy by Paul Gauguin, the Young Girl removing her shirt sculpted by Roger de La Fresnaye, setting sail with Les Voiliers à Cannes by Pierre Bonnard or Bateaux sur la plage à Etretat, by Claude Monet… And my caravan already has ants in its wheels as it understands that I'm going to go and be moved by these masterpieces...

So obviously, we are faced with an eclectic collection. But which nonetheless presents “a real coherence, because the main lines linked to the sensitivity of Georges Bemberg appear”, affirms Ana Debenedetti, the director of the Foundation. “Thus, the humanist steeped in classical culture also reveals himself to be open to the experiences of modernity,” notes the journalist from Connaissance des arts, who distinguishes for us two major groups in this collection. The first would consist of ancient art, with the highlights being the 16th and 18th centuries. With Bemberg spending all his summers in Venice, we understand that he acquired paintings by Canaletto and Guardi, but also works by Veronese and Giandomenico Tiepolo. The second would be devoted to the avant-gardes, with the art of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. This is where I personally enjoy it the most. “All the impressionists are present,” announces Jean-François Lasnier. “Monet, Pissaro, Morisot, Caillebotte… Then come Gauguin, the Fauves, the Nabis, the Divisionists and – undoubtedly the pinnacle of the collection – thirty-three paintings by Pierre Bonnard. »

Georges Bemberg was definitely a really good person: he did not want his collection to remain frozen after his death. He wanted to continue to devote his wealth to cultural mediation. Continue to offer the public the opportunity to come face to face with masterpieces without having to go to Paris. Since 2011, its Foundation has therefore acquired some treasures such as a sumptuous folio cabinet by Bernard Van Riesen Burgh, two allegorical figures by Nicolas Tournier, a Saint Jerome by Simone Cantarini, and even the Portrait of a Young Woman with a White Hat by Mary Cassat… I I don't know if you will agree with me, but in front of so much beauty, I'm sure that Georges still has tears in his eyes where he is.

Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: The Hôtel d’Assézat

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