Meeting of two worlds : Renault and Art
Extract from the interview with Elisabeth Couturier, Journalist and Art critic.
The Renault art collection celebrates its 50th anniversary, how did it start?
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.
Can we compare the Renault art collection with other current collections related to a company?
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.
Renault's world is a vast one. How did it work?
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.
Did Renault act as a producer before the hour?
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.
When did you take over the collection?
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.