Collector profile: Guillaume Houzé
Contemporary Art | “I was maybe 10 when I opened the door and saw the portrait of an old woman by Chaïm Soutine.” In the erudite atmosphere of his great-grandparents Max and Paulette Heilbronn’s apartment, that image of a head in a kind of primordial state of being sparks a passion that takes hold of the young Guillaume Houzé. His family history has been tied to the Galeries Lafayette for five generations, since their creation by his great-grandfather Théophile Bader. From childhood onwards, he is plunged into a unique familial cultural matrix focused on innovation, fashion and contemporary creation.
His first work?
An Erro painting he bought when he was 13 or 14; the colorful and expressive world of the Narrative Figuration artists easily replaces the comic books he consumed as an adolescent. His singular path quickly orientates toward artists of his generation, guided by gallerists with a forward-looking eye such as Olivier Antoine of Art : Concept, Michel Rein, the Valentins, Clémence and Didier Krzentowski of Kréo Gallery, and Edouard Mérino and Florence Bonnefous of Air de Paris...
Always let yourself be surprised, welcome the audacious. “Art isn’t made to be liked or to amuse.” Guillaume Houzé creates a personal territory that attempts to absorb the immense contents of art, leaning more to the philosophical than the contemplative. In his collection, works follow their course without ostentation, like so many presences engaged in an intense questioning : numerous head-masks, works by Mathieu Mercier, Ugo Rondinone, Martin Boyce, and Bertrand Lavier plumb the depths of the soul and the human; works by Tatiana Trouvé, Walead Beshty and Wade Guyton explore the energy of the creative process.
Rather than “accumulating trophies for the living room,” he seeks to endow his purchases with meaning and envisage them in a long-term process. Since 2005, in cooperation with his grandmother Ginette Moulin, he has developed a collection open to young artists; a regenerating, trans-generational flux, and a manner to banish the memory of his grandparents “passing on a Klein” in the 70’s. Up until 2012, the collection took shape in annual exhibitions at Galeries Lafayette under the name Antidote. Guillaume Houzé advances a visionary strategy bringing together business and art in a pyramidal dynamic : from marketing, event planning, patronage and internal communication to an official partnership with the FIAC, another temple of commerce, the name of his family group resounds at all creative levels.
“A means to an end.” That is to say a productive energy that clearly defines the contours of his personal engagement in art at the heart of its ecosystem : helping emerging galleries and aiding the arrival of new artists on the scene, stimulating the French market, giving visibility to French artists abroad, initiating the Lafayette section at the FIAC as well as the major prize he created in partnership with the Palais de Tokyo… As collector, advisor and producer, it is the same project that takes shape – to create a foundation conceived as a laboratory for generating new material for thought, new productions, programs and ways of curating… At 32, Guillaume Houzé is redrawing the lines that define the art world in France.