In 1980, I set off for Italy. In Milan, I discovered the fabulous works of Gio Ponti, in Torino, I discovered those of Carlo Molino, some main pieces of which I was able to buy and that I exhibited on Bonaparte street years later. Then Venice, with Scarpa. When I saw Italian design from the 50’s and 70’s, it drove me crazy. The most radiant and revolutionary of these years, when everything had to be seen as black and sad, was Ettore Sottsass’s work. It was an explosion of colors, poor materials such as Formica, along with humor though, huge in culture, a reinterpretation of the European history of design. To me Sottsass and the Italian movements sparked off today’s fondness for design.
After four years at the flea market, I absolutely wanted to have a gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Près, as close to the school of fine art as possible. And I told myself “Gastou, who is going to make the inside architecture of the gallery, and its front ? Sottsass !”. It was his first architectural project in France, and one of the very firsts in the world. From then on, we alternated between exhibitions of major artists and younger ones, such as Dubreuil, Starck, Arad, Dixon and the wonderful Kuramata, the most poetic and humble of all, whom we were the firsts to introduce in Europe. As for Sottsass, he often displayed his new pieces in our gallery. We chatted, and he was invariably saying “How can you sell all that ? It’s unable to be sold !” As if he was still doubting the fact that his work had already made its mark on the century.
Words from Yves Gastou, gathered by Christiane Germain, extracts from Yves Gastou, antiquaire du futur, Delphine Antoine, Éditions Norma, Paris, 2011, pages 7 to 11.