THE PHILANTHROPISTS

Artworks by Erwin Wurm installed in Cafe de Flore, Paris

Art historian Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem is the founder of the Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a yearly contemporary art festival in Paris, and the B&C art and culture member’s club. She is also the co-founder of Spirit Now London which organises exclusive art events, and a board member of numerous cultural institutions across the globe. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, she speaks to LUX about supporting rising artists, the challenges of her work and plans for 2021

Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem. Image by Sonia Fitoussi

LUX: When did you first begin to support emerging artists, and what motivated you?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I come from a family of art collectors and experts. I was born in Limoges into the Haviland family, a family of porcelain manufacturers. My mother was an art restorer. It is a family tradition to support artists and to become really good friends with them. Haviland, for example, worked with Wassily Kandinsky, who made a tea set for them.

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I first began to collect artists in 2000. The first show I curated was of the photographer Ange Leccia at the Armani shop in 1999. I bought four pictures with my first salary. I then started to collect the artists that I was exhibiting in my annual art show, Parcours Saint Germain, which I founded in Paris twenty years ago.

This exhibition presents about thirty artists in each edition, whom I chose amongst the projects that I like the most and of which I gather a few pieces.

More recently, I have started developing a collection of abstract paintings and I am trying to focus also on women artists like Suzan Frecon and Vivian Springford.

installation art

Sabine Pigalle and Philippe di Meo at Celine as part of Sweet Art, the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés 

LUX: Is there anybody in the philanthropy world who particularly inspires you?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: As an art historian I have always been admiring of all the important philanthropic families such as the Medici family. When I was working at the Centre Pompidou at the beginning of my career I realised how much public museums have been depending on private collectors. Many artworks in museum’s collections come from private donations, sometimes a private collection is the starting stone of building a whole museum.

I also witnessed the creation of collections such as the Fondation Cartier, Louis Vuitton, François Pinault as well as the birth of their private foundations and the opening private museums for the public.

I am also a big admirer of Patricia Sandretto and Frederic Jousset, and of philanthropic initiatives that help young artists and support education and diversity such as Fluxus Charity or Art Explora.

A sculpture at the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés 

LUX: What originally brought you to found the B&C Club?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I had the idea of creating a club when I was living in France seven years ago, acting as a board member of the Tokyo Art Club of the Palais de Tokyo. I used to create programs around the current exhibitions and the artists exhibiting for the patrons of the museum. As soon as I moved to London I wanted to create a more international group and to offer my members the possibility to go everywhere. I thought that founding a private project which also raises funds for art and museums would enable me to offer a more diversified program.

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LUX: What exactly does the B&C Club do, and how did you ensure you get optimum results?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The club is a private group of patrons, art collectors, intellectuals and open minded people, for which I organise very privileged access to artists’ studios, galleries, museums, art centres but also to eminent curators, museum directors and art historians. For me the key is the assurance of high quality visits and the excellent curating of all the speakers. I look carefully at what is going on in the world and I pick the artists, designers, and curators who I fundamentally believe have something different to say.

LUX: What are your proudest achievements?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: An encounter and talk between Antony Gormely and Idan Segev, an internationally renowned neuroscientist from the Edmond & Lily Safra centre for Brain Sciences of Jerusalem.

LUX: Do you enjoy participating in Fluxus Art Projects? What originally brought you there?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The former cultural attaché of the French Institute in London approached me as soon as I moved to London to be on the board of Fluxus and its artistic committee. I enjoy it a lot, it is a fabulous feeling to be at the source of the future talents and help them achieve their goals.

LUX: How much of your time does it take?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: It takes a lot of time to read all the different projects and to prepare the two annual board meetings. I would say it takes a third of my time at the moment.

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LUX: Do you have some specific examples of artists who have benefited?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Ed Atkins, Ryan Gander, Ulla von Brandenburg, Zineb Sedira, Laure Prouvost and Camille Henrot (currently showing at Lisson Gallery) among others.

LUX: What are the biggest obstacles and challenges you have faced?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The first lockdown was complicated because my job entails a lot of travelling and organising events with groups, but I immediately signed up to a Zoom pro account and started organising webinars.

LUX: How will COVID-19 affect what you do?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: It is still a challenge particularly in Paris for the Parcours Saint Germain, with my sponsors in fashion. So the main idea is to do the best as I can, work a lot, redesign the web portals, organise webinars, send newsletters articles, and wait and see.

Dior windows by artist Stephane Calais, 2002

LUX: How would you encourage people like you to get more involved in non-profit organisations that support the arts?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Every event is an opportunity to communicate to my network the need of private initiatives in culture. A great example is a talk we had with Sandra Hegedüs and the Sam Art Projects in conversation together with Catherine Petitgas.

LUX: Any other advice for our readers who might be considering going into the sector?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Crises often give birth to new opportunities. Keep your eyes and ears open.

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LUX: What led to you co-founding Spirit Now London?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Spirit Now was the first group, and B&C the second. The main difference between the two groups is that I am the only owner of B&C and its program is more open to philosophy, literature and current affairs.

Installation of work by French photographer Natacha Lesueur as part of Sweet Art, the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés 

LUX: What does your role as director of the B&C Club entail?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I am both the owner and director of the club. I curate the whole program, contact artists, collectors, curators, gallerists, museum directors and writers, sometimes from all over the world and invite them either to come to London for a talk, a webinar or a visit. We organise art trips as well.

LUX: What about B&C’s direction, as we head into 2021, what are you most excited for?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I am creating an international category for the club called B&C Reports – there is a new page on our website. I have invited a curator based in Rio de Janeiro to write articles about his favourite artists which I regularly post on my blog. We also organise webinars with these artists based all over the word. We select them together, record them and post all the webinars. We are also signing partnerships with different institutions to help them support the arts and to develop strongly their philanthropic side.

LUX: Can you tell us a bit about your aim for your new project in 2021 with Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: We have very ambitious projects for the Parcours 2021. As the current situation limits visits indoors in all of the places where we traditionally exhibited them (Louis Vuitton, Armani, Hotel Lutetia and Café de Flore), we have decided to program a variety of outdoor installations. We are working on a huge installation with the international artist JR and  the students of the famous school for cinema Kourtrajmé which will be produced and installed on the place Germain des Prés. Another project is to create colours and patterns on the pedestrian pathways with Carlos-Cruz Diez, who was a teacher at the School of Beaux Arts and had his studio in St Germain des Prés.

As we wanted to include architecture in our program, we have also invited the Architectural Association and a collective of young architects from Place Furstenberg. Our opening event will be outdoor with chefs and food-trucks, and will aim to combine photography, design, sculpture, fashion, photography, street art, street food and art all together.

Find out more: thebc-club.com