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  |  29. August 2016

PROVENCE LIGHT

Jean Planque art collection enriches Aix-en-Provence

A new branch of the well-known ‘Granet Museum’ has been opened in Aix-en-Provence at the edge of the city’s promenade, where Paul Cézanne once enjoyed a glass of Rosé wine. The three-storey building, a rebuilt 17th century chapel, now houses the artistic treasures of the private collection of Jean Planque (1910-1998). It includes artworks by Braque, Degas, Picasso, Klee and Cézanne, as well as paintings of the collector himself.

The Swiss art collector Jean Planque passionately purchased paintings, especially 20th century modern art, buying everything he liked without bias. He also was a close friend to many of the artists whose works he gathered. In relation to his passion for collecting art, he himself once stated: “I have loved the paintings more than I have loved life”. Although Planque is not a wealthy man, he often manages to purchase a painting before it attracts the attention of other buyers. Also, thanks to his friendly relations to artists and dealers around the world, he often is able to acquire paintings for comparatively little money.

Picasso, too, holds the Swiss collector’s infallible instincts in high esteem. He gets to know him personally in 1960 - on Planque's 50th birthday - when he presents the Spanish artist with a painting of Cézanne as a gift; this marks the beginning of a close and trusting friendship. In total, Planque’s collection includes 15 paintings of Picasso, from all his creative period, starting from ‘Harlequin’ (1917) to ‘Head of a Sleeping Woman’ (1970).

Planque’s favorite Picasso is ‘Woman and Cat’. He often relates the story of how he had to turn the painting around sometimes because the cat was scaring him so much. Legend has it that on April 8 in 1973 - on Picasso’s dying day - the painting fell off the wall. As visitors can see for themselves in The Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence, there are indeed clearly visible scratches on it.

Jean Planque is born in the summer of 1910 in the Swiss Canton Waadt, as the only son of a family of six children. In 1929, he starts working for an insurance company in Basle and begins watercolour painting. As a 20-year-old, he spots an aquarelle painted by Paul Klee in a gallery and first thinks of it as a child’s drawing. The discovery of this type of art has a deep impact on him and completely throws his traditional understanding of art overboard.

After his wife’s death in 1997, he founds the ‘Fondation Jean et Suzanne Planque’. One year later, at the age of 88, Jean Planque dies, after having made sure to grant public access to his extensive artistic treasure. The Jean Planque Collection will be open to visitors at The Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence until 2025.

 

 

 

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