I recall the numerous times when viewing the exceptional exhibitions at La Collection Lambert, situated in the Hôtel du Caumont in a peaceful corner of Avignon, that casual conversations with other visitors would reveal that they were unaware of the actual fact that the Collection represents the lifelong passion of one man: Yvon Lambert.
Another actual fact that would go unrecognized is that La Collection Lambert is one of the world’s richest and well-studied private collections of contemporary art.
Last November at the museum in the presence of the President Francois Hollande, Yvon Lambert announced that he was donating nearly 600 works of art to the State and to their permanent domicile in the city of Avignon (video clip). Christie’s places an estimated value of the donation of Yvon Lambert at about $130 million.
Subsequently, the city of Avignon and the Culture Ministry agreed to arrange financing to double the current exhibition space of the Hôtel du Caumont by occupying the neighboring Hôtel de Montfaucon, which currently houses the Avignon Art School.
An exquisite passion for art came to a precocious Yvon Lambert at a young age in his native Vence, thirty miles northeast of Nice; he purchased his first work of art at the age of 14. He opened his first gallery in Vence, and in 1966, he founded a gallery in Paris.
Yvon Lambert held the firm conviction that Paris had faded on the horizon of the art world, and that the rising stars in art burned brightest in America. In the 1970’s, his acquisitions of minimal art, conceptual art and land art came to form the brilliant core of the Collection Lambert. The following decades brought a veritable effulgence of esteemed works: in the 80’s paintings: in the 90’s photography, and since then video installations, more paintings and new art.
In the 1990’s, Yvon Lambert decided to put his collection on public display. Reaching an agreement with the city of Avignon, Yvon Lambert placed on loan for a period of twenty years his collection, which was installed in the Hôtel du Caumont . La Collection Lambert in Avignon opened in July 2000.
In building his collection since the 1960’s, Yvon Lambert devoted himself to presenting a coherent representation of an artist’s oeuvre to the point where for certain artists Avignon is the unique place in France to view so many of an artist’s masterpieces.
This is certainly the case for such artists in La Collection Lambert as: Cy Twombly, featured in an exposition “Blooming” in 29007 and Le Temps Retrouvé, Cy Twombly Photographs and Invited Artists in 2011; Andres Serrano in an exhibit of 120 photographs in 2006, Sol LeWitt (more than 35 sculptures, works on paper and wall drawings), and Nan Goldin (70 photographs). Other distiguished artists in the Collection Lambert include Donald Judd, Brice Marden, Daniel Buren, Gordon Matta-Clark, Anselm Kiefer, Miquel Barcelò, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, Douglas Gordon, Bertrand Lavier, Loris Gréaud, Vincent Ganivet, and Zilvinas Kempinas.
2013 Exhibition in Honor of Five Women Artists
In 2013, La Collection Lambert will honor five women artists – Louise Bourgeois, Camille Claudel, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbach and Berlinde de Bruyckere.
The Palais des Papes will also exhibit the five artists giving the exhibition a citywide scope similar to the 2010 showing of Miquel Barcelo held at La Collection Lambert and the Palais. The exhibit will run from June until November 11, 2013.
Galerie Yvon Lambert Website, Photo r. Robert Rauschenberg, Tétouan, Morocco, 1952, by Cy Twombley
METropolitan Restaurant: Located in the courtyard of l’Hôtel du Caumont (photo above), fall hours: open for lunch tues to sat. 12 to 2:30 p.m. Website
Dining Out in Avignon: Here