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Art Novices

As the new year begins, possibilities abound: new friends, new adventures and new roads to travel. One road, whether you are a new or experienced collector, is finding the perfect painting that brings you joy and adds a new dimension to your life. Let me share two of my adventures.

At the time I seriously began collecting art, I was fascinated by the Fauve artists of France. My late husband, also loved this period. And together, while in Antibes, France, we eventually purchased a portrait by Andre Derain of his niece. It took us three visits to the gallery of Mme Rene LePorte before making a commitment to purchase a painting by a major artist.

Buying this painting was a turning point in my life, because from this point forward, I studied everything I could get my hands on about the Fauve period. This eye-opening experience led me down the road of a lifetime of art exploration: not only for the Fauves; but also for the German Expressionists; the School of “Ziniars,” in Lyon, France, and the Nabis in St. Germain-en-Laye, France. An adventure such as mine is just waiting for both the new and experienced collector – a chance to walk down a new path in life.

One of the ways to walk this path is to collect a work of art about which you have a passion. If you find yourself repeatedly drawn to a work of art, this might be the very thing you should collect. Don’t be timid. Ask questions before you make a purchase. My husband and I asked Mme LePorte many questions before we purchased our painting. Her reputation in the art world was impeccable, so it gave us a secure feeling to deal with her. The fact that she had already had the Derain painting authenticated by a world-renowned expert on Derain gave us even more confidence.

Another art collecting adventure was my discovery of the paintings of Emile Didier, noted artist from Lyon, who was greatly influenced by the Fauves. He along with 11 other artists founded the School of “Ziniars” 1920-24. They elected not to go to Paris but to stay in Lyon and paint the surrounding area. This discovery led to my meeting with Mme Mermillion, the owner of Gallery St. Georges in the old city section of Lyon. She in turn took me by the hand to the Musee de Beaux-Artes to show me more paintings from this little-known art movement. Here again, I had another adventure that led me down a different path in the world of art. Consequently, I never go to France without visiting Lyon to look for more artwork from the School of “Ziniars.”

One of my favorite Didier paintings is the “Scene from the Rivers of Lyon.” Didier, before painting an oil on canvas, made an oil sketch on paper. The painting shown in this article is one of a series of more than 100 oil on paper sketches depicting scenes in and around Lyon, especially its rivers, the Soane and Rhone. In this painting on paper, Didier depicts boats on the river by using bold horizontal and vertical brush strokes along with brilliant colors. His work is reminiscent of his fellow Frenchman, Derain.

Whether you’re a new collector, or an experienced collector starting down a new path, adventure awaits. The hunt for the rare work of art that you can’t live without can become a “magnificent obsession.” Once you’ve started, there’s no turning back.

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