Major collector Jean Claude Gandur awarded the Legion of Honor


Jean Claude Gandur, the founder of the Addax & Oryx group, but also a major art collector and patron, received the title of Officer of the Legion of Honor on October 7, 2017, at the Beau-Rivage Hotel in Lausanne, bestowed upon him by his friend Francis Wahl.

Through the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, he holds not only one of the richest collections of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities, but also one of the world’s most important collections of lyrical abstraction and European abstract expressionism, counting some 900 paintings, which he makes available to the public through many exhibitions: “what’s the point in collecting works of art if no one else gets to share in one’s passion?” Gandur’s first contact with painting dates to the time his father brought him, at the tender age of 13, to a biennial show dedicated by the Lausanne Museum of Art to the “new painters”, including Mathieu.

In his speech at the reception, Jean Claude Gandur explains the tremendous “opportunity [it was] for a collector to bring together these abandoned heros“, these French and international painters of the second School of Paris “whose common denominator was Paris, the capital of arts, the nerve centre of creation, good taste and good manners, a place so essential that the rest of the world seemed obliterated by so many talents in a single place, these painters the entire world fought over and just like Icarus fell under the crushing blows of the new American school and about whom the biennial of Venice in 1964 sounded the death knell, the result of the fatal nature of the cycles of fashion, as the gods of yesterday become the damned, forgotten by their public, but also by the museums, both in France and abroad“.

It isn’t mere chance that Georges Mathieu is particularly well-represented in this collection: it includes about fifteen canvases including the seminal work Evanescence (1945) and the famous piece The Abduction of Henri IV by the Archbishop Anno of Cologne (1958). Jean Claude Gandur explains that he spent his years of university study in contact with Mathieu. At the age of 23 he met this “painter who broke with convention, idolized and then challenged“, that he “considers one of the fathers of abstraction“, and who “opened [his] mind to contemporary painting“. With him he had “artistic and philosophical exchanges that were decisive for [his] understanding art as well as the future of this society in total upheaval following the events of May, 1968“. On this topic, he described how one day he asked Mathieu if he could visit his studio. While he wandered through, he saw a crumpled sketch that had been thrown on the floor. He opened it up and asked Mathieu what he was going to do with it. The artist shot back “You like it? Take it.” This was the first pictorial piece in Jean Claude Gandur’s collection.

Photo credits: © Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Geneva. Photographer: G.Maillot/Agence