Galerie Jean-Francois CazeauParis - France
When his uncle Philippe died suddenly, Jean-François Cazeau was not yet in his fifties and, although a dealer for seventeen years, considered himself almost a novice. "The main quality of this profession is patience", professes the man who, after opening his own gallery since 2009, is beginning to reap the first fruits of his labor. In his gallery in the Marais, Picasso is rubbing elbows with Léger, while "Walking Woman", signed Giacometti, pushes her way between Masson and César. Collectors who dream of a Renoir or a bronze by Germaine Richier, of course, know who to turn to. Each of the rooms, hung as in an apartment a few steps from the Picasso Museum, has its history, its singularity, justifying its value.
"I received a military or religious-like training from my uncle," says the Parisian gallery owner, who has kept a touch of Béarn accent. From this renowned tutor - his uncle - who trained with the Wildensteins, Jean-François learned to know about artists and the history of art but also to understand collectors. Those who trust him are not the compulsive type and they ignore the "contemporary market" of millionaire artists run by mega-galleries. "It takes thirty years to know if a work will hold up," he assures us, bravely defending the timelessness of Pierre Bonnard, Georges Mathieu and Bernard Buffet. Rather than sell off in the panic of a crisis, Jean-François Cazeau mastered the art of storage: an important Soutine, bought during the market downturn in the 90s, then shown from fair to fair without finding a buyer, broke a record at auction a decade later. "The sound investments find their way back to the top above others", theorizes the emancipated nephew, who allows himself rare deviations with living artists who have the good taste to remind Soulages or Miro.
The "secondary market", as the saying goes, delivers its dose of adrenaline, for the dealer who holds part of the heritage of mankind in his hands. Here, risk taking is based on expertise in authenticity, provenance and conservation. "Instinct is also a learning process," said Jean-François Cazeau. As for commercial sense, it is expressed by the art of conversation, nourished by the presentation of ancient objects - here a Khmer lion's head, there a few objects over 4000 years old. "Buyers, especially foreigners, appreciate being taken through art historical journeys. When they come to see us, it's also to learn what we've taken the time to know."
Translated from "Portrait", written in French by Daniel Bernard