by Natasha Wolff | January 22, 2013 12:00 am
It was the winter of 1975, in Paris. I wandered into the Galerie Proscenium, where there were 30 or 40 pieces on the walls. The simplicity of this piece spoke to me. And the extraordinary resemblance [to Serge Diaghilev]. There’s something light about it; there are very precise lines as well as wit. Cocteau uses a firm hand, but it’s almost abstract. I was staying in a hotel when I bought it, so I put it in my room and spent a lot of time looking at it before I went to sleep and in the morning. It was mine—and I was excited and proud.
It’s still very fresh to me. I’ve read so many stories about Diaghilev, the legendary impresario who opened the doors to Russian art at the turn of the last century. He was one of the most important people in Russian cultural life, period. Without him, Russian art and the avant-garde would have been in a very different place.
This piece was the beginning, and I got hooked; I studied art and developed a larger interest. I never really considered myself a collector. I just bought what caught my eye whenever I had enough money in my pocket.
In the past few years, most of my art has been in storage. Some of it I rotate—this piece has been in a few different homes: in Paris, in the Dominican Republic and in New York. Sooner or later, it will be in the hands of my foundation. I’m not interested in contemporary art, the big, expensive pieces. It’s more a business than anything else—and anyway, I can’t afford it.
— As told to Adam Rathe
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