Françoise & Florence Chibret-Plaussu
“Art is a flame that is passed on from generation to generation”
Galerie de la Présidence is a family story and if this passion is hereditary, it is because both mother and daughter know how to combine art in a very complementary way.
Françoise Chibret-Plaussu created Galerie de la Présidence in 1971, at the mythical Parisian crossroads of Place Beauvau and Faubourg Saint-Honoré opposite the Elysée Palace. Her daughter, Florence Plaussu joined her more than twenty years ago and has now become the Director of the gallery. Françoise maintains an expert and critical eye while Florence carefully prepares the themes of the next exhibitions and selects the new acquisitions.
Under what circumstances was Galerie de la Présidence founded ?
Françoise: After studying Art History at Montparnasse and experience in the marketing-advertising department of my family’s pharmaceutical company, I decided to create Galerie de la Présidence in 1971. It was a time when many movements emerged, there was a true artistic expansion and it excited me.
Florence: For the record, the 70s correspond to my childhood, in an environment where art was very present. From a young age, I accompanied my parents on their travels, opening my eyes and mind to the world’s different cultures: from Borobudur to St. Petersburg! The taste for beauty, aesthetics and discovery has always held an important place in our family.
Did you have family history that predisposed you to this job?
Françoise: I had certainly been exposed to art, as my father was already a collector of paintings. Thanks to our common passion I could fulfil my dreams by creating Galerie de la Présidence. This same openness to art is also present with my brother, Henri, who is President of the Auvergne region FRAC (Regional Contemporary Art Fund).
Florence: I really feel that beyond studies and the necessary culture, art is also a question of look, preference, shared adventure and passion. In this case, thanks to my mother in particular, and my family, I could integrate and become familiar with this environment from a very young age.
How did you choose the firsts artists you exhibited?
Françoise: I was quickly interested in the first half of the twentieth century by presenting a major exhibition of Albert Marquet, followed by another dedicated to Maurice de Vlaminck in the 1980s. More recently, we presented sixty watercolours of Paul Signac, and in 2008 an important selection of Henri-Edmond Cross watercolours and a second Marquet exhibition in 2016.
In addition to current trends, I always pay special attention to the painters of the interwar period, Derain, Fautrier, Goerg, Gromaire, André Marchand, and Gruber. In 2017, I was thrilled at an exhibition to discover the artistic friendship between Alberto Giacometti and Francis Gruber. Participating in the deepening of the knowledge of a painter is a part of the job that I like very much.
Florence: I would add that we also presented an exhibition of the sculptures of André Derain, an area that is still not well known to the general public. We also organized a very successful exhibition on the first part of the work of Jean Hélion.
For a number of artists, we are the “experts” contrary to other players in the art market who are “generalists”. You should know that the substantive work of a gallery is to follow and promote its artists through exhibitions, catalogues, or expertise.
Is there or should there be a necessary link between the work that you love, the art that you find touching and the works you exhibit?
Françoise: It would be difficult for me to speak about and consequently to present an artist with whom I feel distant or little affinity. It is the privilege of the gallery owner to be able to approach artists we appreciate or admire, as is the case with Marcel Gromaire, and then to become their ambassador. This emotional link is necessary perhaps even vital.
Florence: Yes, it goes without saying that the interest, if not admiration, we have for a painter helps us to better identify his work, to be in empathy and so to recommend him more warmly. I think I can say that we only select and buy artworks that we love. This is the message that we pass on to our friends and our collectors: quality in diversity.
Marcel Gromaire is your fetish artist, why?
Françoise: He is not the only one, but it is true that I have a passion for this discreet artist with major work in twentieth century art. I discovered his work early at the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris, which has more than 100 paintings from the donation of Doctor Maurice Girardin. Gradually, the more I saw his paintings or drawings, the more my passion grew for his work which is without concession and totally authentic. I had the chance to work closely with his son, François Gromaire, who placed his trust in me and together we prepared the Catalogue Raisonné of his father’s oils.
Florence: I feel a strong connection with Marcel Gromaire’s powerful and generous work. We see a man from the north, marked by the war – in which he participated – and we also perceive the values of humanism on which he based his painting, which is both serious and imprinted with serenity. The artist’s grandson, Jean-François Gromaire, with whom I worked to write the Catalogue Raisonné of the watercolours of Marcel Gromaire, holds these same values today.
Currently, we are very happy to collaborate in the preparation of a “Gromaire” exhibition, which will be presented successively in ‘La Piscine’ in Roubaix, the Eugène Boudin Museum of Honfleur and the Paul Valéry Museum in Sète, and will be held in 2019-2020.
The lesser-known Michel de Gallard is also a star in your gallery. What connection do you have with this artist?
Françoise: I made the acquaintance of Michel de Gallard through the gallery owner Maurice Garnier. From the 1970s, he decided to devote himself exclusively to the work of Bernard Buffet, and he offered to take over that of Michel de Gallard. This painter’s palette that refers to the difficult times of World War II, interested me. Even if it fits in the “miserabilism” movement, it exudes great sensitivity. Today, he deserves greater recognition, as do many of the figurative painters of the generation of the 1950s.
What, if any, is your buyer’s profile?
Françoise: Most of our buyers have been faithful to the gallery for decades and we have created lasting relationships and trust. They come from around the world, and also from certain institutions. Recently, a major American Museum of Washington, DC acquired a drawing of Dubois-Pillet.
Florence: We also see a younger profile emerging with buyers curious about the movements of the twentieth century and interested in artists ranging from Marquet to Dubuffet. The financial recession brought the collectors back to reliable values that we have always defended. Currently fans are very surprised by the ever-rising extraordinarily high contemporary art prices. They require advice to help them in their choices.
Who are your “headliners” right now in the Gallery?
Florence: Beyond the current trends, we remain faithful to those we have always supported and who form the foundations of the Gallery: Boudin, Cross, R. Dufy, Gromaire, Marquet, Roussel, Signac, Vlaminck, Vuillard…
We are approached by museums to collaborate in some national and international exhibitions. We had the pleasure, for example, to work with the Marmottan Monet Museum for the “Henri-Edmond Cross and the neo-Impressionism from Seurat to Matisse” exhibition as Scientific Commissioner for works on paper.
Loaning works to museums is always an opportunity for rewarding cross exchanges. They show the public works from private collections. These works have their own lives, move, hide or expose themselves. We are one of the links in this chain.
In 2016, we were thrilled to work on the “Marquet” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris through loaning around thirty works but also on that of “Boudin” at the André-Malraux Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre. We are currently working with the Museum of Impressionism in Giverny for the ‘H – E Cross” retrospective which will be presented in 2018-2019 in association with the Potsdam Museum.
How do you allocate tasks between the two of you?
Françoise: We are very complementary. Our team perfectly combines cultural and operational, artistic and pragmatic aspects. In this business you must have a good eye and from the outset, Florence has had a very discerning eye. She brings a lot of dynamism to the table by taking part in many international fairs: Biennale des Antiquaires – Paris, Brafa – Brussels, Tefaf – Maastricht, Salon du Dessin in Paris and organizes exhibitions at the gallery. Today, Florence runs the gallery with the help of our collaborator, Eric Antoine- Noirel.
Florence: Nothing was predetermined. I attended Business school, followed an internship at Sotheby’s for a year and I felt very at ease in this environment. My mother did not dissuade me, and I found myself like a fish in water in the Gallery (without going around in circles I might add!) Today, each of us has our own role and our duo works perfectly between experience and youth, expertise and discovery – a good balance.
Which artists in your personal Pantheon do not yet have the recognition they deserve and will ‘take off’ in the years to come?
Françoise: There were many artists in museums forty years ago and who disappeared completely. Currently, Derain, Gruber, Fautrier or Helion, are reappearing on the walls of the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris. You should know that the art scene is not frozen but evolving, influenced by different currents in the history of art and especially its market. Facing a certain class of the press who is always searching for financial records that combines art and investment, our role is to take a step back. The true amateur has another approach, that of the collector.
Can we have fun and buy one of your paintings without being rich?
Florence: Absolutely. The financial aspect is not the main criteria to be a collector. You can come into our gallery to have fun and make a reasonable purchase. One of the joys of our profession, in addition to the discovery of an exceptional painting, is also to help an amateur to start their collection, to introduce them to the artist’s world and advise them. Even more than so that at salons, meeting with art lovers at the gallery allows us to build trust through our exchanges. It is a privileged moment to introduce important artists who are not under the spotlight.
Finally Françoise, after 50 years of experience,
what are you thinking?
Françoise: I can’t imagine my life without this passion for art. It is my reason for living, and I love to share it. I’m very happy that my daughter Florence has the same enthusiasm.