It all started with an original idea of patronage. In 1967, Claude Renard, a Renault's senior executive, art lover and friend of Malraux, wanted to bring the world of business and contemporary art closer together by establishing occasional collaborations with artists. The original intention was not to achieve something in the long term. It was rather an intuitive approach, with no stated objectives, supported by Louis Dreyfus, the CEO at that time.
We can’t, because the original idea was not to "collect" but to organize a fertile meeting with the artists. Contemporary art was, at the time, neither a speculative value nor a sign of prestige, at most a field of experimentation, a human adventure. This is why the project was to initiate a living collaboration with the artist and rather than buying finished works.
The artists were able to choose the departments or workshops which attracted them. For example, Tinguely, who was interested in machines and Arman, who accumulated standard objects, willingly headed for assembly lines and workshops.
Yes, since the works were made with Renault workshops. The Régie kept only a few pieces, the rest went to the artists. Arman has created 150 works and the collection has about twenty of them. In addition, the project also aimed to make Renault staff appreciate contemporary art by creating meetings with artists.
In 1996, I was asked to take over the collection: at that time 35 renowned artists and nearly 350 works. Since then, in line with the company's international relations, we have exhibited the collection in Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Beijing and Wuhan, where a large Renault factory has been built. With the expansion of corporate approaches to art today, Renault's long action with the art is seen as audacious and visionary.