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 major pieces of which I was able to acquire and that I exhibited on rue Bonaparte years later. Then Venice, with Scarpa. When I saw Italian design from the 50’s to the 70’s, it drove me crazy. The most radiant and revolutionary of these years, when everything had to be seen as dark and sad, was Ettore Sottsass’s work. It was an explosion of colors, modest materials such as Formica ; however, along with humor, huge in culture, a reinterpretation of the European history of design. To me Sottsass and the Italian movements sparked today’s fondness for design.
After four years at the street market, I absolutely wanted to have a gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Près area, as close to the École des Beaux-Arts as possible. And I told myself “Gastou, who is going to design the inside architecture of the gallery, and its façade ? Sottsass !”. It was his first architectural project in France, and one of the very first 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, who we were the first 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 impossible to sell !” 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.