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Ooh aah Museum Cantona!

1 September 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Footballer, poet, actor, activist and all round Renaissance man Eric Cantona has made his mark on many a discipline. But who knew that he was also an art collector? Residents of the Sardinian town of Cuglieri have been left in no doubt as to his aesthetic sensibilities after the Manchester United legend declared his intention to open a museum in the municipality.

‘He wants a museum of art in Cuglieri for about 50 works and is ready to do a deal as soon as possible,’ local official Massimo Torrente said, adding that the former French striker had expressed an interest in acquiring a disused school building to house the venture.

So what can we expect from the Fondazione Cantona? Eric’s interest in art stretches back to childhood, when his psychiatrist father took him to exhibitions and encouraged him to draw. As Le Monde reported in 2010, he started collecting at the age of 22, buying works by post-Impressionist painters such as Pierre Ambrogiani.

In recent years, however, le roi Eric has displayed a particular fondness for socially engaged street art, buying work by the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and Blek Le Rat. And back in 2013, he commissioned US street artist JonOne to spraypaint his beloved Rolls Royce Corniche, before selling the resulting work for €125,000 and donating the proceeds to a homeless charity.

And then there are Cantona’s own paintings. ‘I’m like Jack Kerouac,’ he said in 2015. ‘He wrote and listened to jazz. I listen to jazz and I paint to the rhythm. And I feel free.’ Roll on the retrospective…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.