The most talked about and photographed art at the Frieze Art Fair in London the last few days has been the Helly Nahmad Gallery booth called “The Collector.” Instead of displaying art in a plain white box, the galley carefully created the Paris apartment of a fictional Italian art collector in 1968.
According to Art News, “Nahmad hired production designer Robin Brown for the booth, where, he explained, he wanted to distill his ‘philosophy’ of what the ideal collector should be. ‘Passionate, intellectual, reclusive,’ he said. ‘He’s not living to entertain people here, he’s living and breathing art.'”
“He’s a writer, a collector, a philosopher, a poet,” Nahmad said, and handed me a 1960s newspaper they created with a text by Sir Norman Rosenthal, which fills in the backstory (e.g. “His home city Milan stood, above all, for design”). But then how does he afford all this art? “Occasionally he works for the French bourse, it’s all in the paper.”
I’m sure some of you will just see a space bordering on Hoarderville but I admire the the foresight and creativity that Helly Nahmad and his gallery had to create this space. It’s intriguing and interesting and makes you stop to try to see everything inside. I’ve only seen the photos but I have read that it was moving experience to view in person. When every other gallery was doing the same old same old, they created a buzz and and got people talking and more importantly, Instagramming.
I don’t know if creating an Instagram worthy space was their intention but it was certainly the result. It’s also a perfect case study for social media and marketing managers.
Photos by Fausta Maria Bolettieri and Instagram.