The Attitude of Artistry
Jacques Grange’s 18th-century apartment in the Palais-Royal in Paris houses his impressive collection of modern and contemporary pieces against an elegant, neoclassical backdrop. He talks to Apollo about why presenting a collection can be as important as creating one
Oscar Humphries, Thursday, 3rd March 2011
Jacques Grange had a classical training. He was taught his trade – for back then, in 1960s Paris, interior design was indeed a trade, albeit the grandest of ones – at the École Boulle and later at the École Camondo, where he acquired such fundamental skills as cabinet making and upholstery. At the age of 20 he went to work for Henri Samuel, described by Laurence Mouillefarine in Architectural Digest as ‘one of the first true experts at mixing genres. [Samuel] delighted in juxtaposing Louis XVI décor with abstract paintings or in placing Louis XIII cheek by jowl with Oriental objects.’ Such eclecticism has become de rigueur today; nonetheless, Samuel was a serious decorator who worked with serious works of art – his craft was not a trivial one. He designed the installation of the Wrightsman and Linsky donations for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and created interiors for the Vanderbilts and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. From the very beginning, then, as apprentice and friend to Henri Samuel, Monsieur Grange was working with the best collectors and the best collections. While still a young man, he continued his apprenticeship with Didier Aaron, eventually becoming a business partner of the renowned antiques dealer.
Today, Jacques Grange remains based in Paris, although he admits he ‘travels too much.’ His flat was once owned by the writer Colette (1873–1954), from whose family M. Grange purchased the apartment in 2000, having already rented there for 10 years. This collection of elegant rooms in the Palais- Royal now features a bust of its famous former occupant on a table next to a large spin painting by Damien Hirst – a reference to the apartment’s history and to the tastes of its present owner (Fig. 1). ‘I changed it when I bought it,’ M. Grange explains. ‘I kept the architecture, but changed the mood – I forgot Colette a little to benefit the Palais-Royal atmosphere of 18th-century architecture. I kept the cornices, but I redid the floor using old 18th-century Versailles parquet. And I put in my collection – my furniture and my art, my mix of styles.’
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