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June 11 2009 5 11 /06 /June /2009 16:14

Coinciding with the Venice Biennale, the opening of the second museum of François Pinault was a real blast: In the very well located Dogana del Mare, facing the prestigious Plaza Saint Marco an impressive panel of artists such as Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Murakami, Cy Twombly, the Chapman Brothers, but also rising stars such as Matthew Day Jackson, Adel Abdessemed, Nate Lowman are presented. Today, the French Charles Saatchi succeeded an achievement of his career which was not so easy to make.

Indeed, the path which led to Dogana del Mare wasn’t with no traps: the project of having a place to render public his collection started in 2001: he initially wanted to buy in the outskirts of Paris, nearby the ancient factories of Renault, but he had difficulties with the State and finally renounced. Four years later he found and bought the Palazzo Grassi. But Pinault understood fast that his collection – about the 2,500 works of art - was too important to be only displayed in this place. Indeed, the exhibition couldn’t reflect its diversity, since he doesn’t have a fix taste but look more after the personality of an artist, and follows his development.

Abandonned for 30 years, the 17th century place Dogana del Mare appeared has a great opportunity. In 2005, he competed with Peggy Gugenhein to get it, and, with the help of Jean-Jacques Aillagon (ancient minister of culture and communication, and actual president of Versailles’castel), he purchased it.  The project was masterminded by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who had worked with Pinault twice before. The Dogana's unique history was inspiring, he tells me from his Tokyo office, but presented difficulties too. "I was impressed by its simple and rational structure," he explains. "I studied the history of the building and referred to several historical drawings that helped us understand the construction, as well as the different renovations through the centuries."

In order to rediscover the original space, Ando removed all the partitions and interior walls that were added over the last 400 years. What was revealed was a triangle, 105 meters by 75, with a beautiful wooden roof above it. "Some parts of the building could be researched and investigated only after the removing process, so we had to adjust the project step by step and be extremely flexible – and all this on a very tight schedule," he says. "We were only able to proceed with authorization from the Venetian authorities, who had to agree on every step."

The exhibition ‘Mapping the Studio’ curated by Alison Gingeras and Francesco Bonami, develops this intimate subject about the path of a work of art from the artist’s studio till the collector house. Displayed in the two locations, the part in Dogana del Mare totally fits the purpose. The light inside is incredible, and gives a proper shape to all the pieces.

After owning Christies, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, it seems that François Pinault own a good part of Venice, with Dogana del Mare, this taste maker has written his play in the history of the art market, to be continued with his son ?…

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