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Jewellery by Artists: From Picasso to Koons, an exhibition organised by the culture and art portal

Destinations · Europe · france · Paris · Insider's view ·

Inisder: Diane Venet

Author: Anothertravelguide.com1 COMMENT

Inisder: Diane Venet

Born in Paris, Diane Venet owns one of the most unique collections of art in the world. For over 20 years, she has been collecting jewellery, some of it made by world-famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons, Georges Braque, Roy Lichtenstein, Arman, Robert Rauschenberg, César Baldaccini and Salvador Dalí, to name a few.

I was born into an artistic family. My parents collected art and my father was the president of the Friends of the Musée National d’Art Moderne. I spent my youth surrounded by art. When I was a teenager, a 3.50-metre descente de croix signed “Bernard Buffet – 1947” hung on the wall in my bedroom. Not too romantic, I agree, but my heart belongs to romantic Paris. Even when I lived abroad many years, I never got tired of the city’s light, of the pleasure of crossing the Seine 10 times a day, of seeing the sun set behind the Notre Dame Cathedral or admiring the hôtels particuliers built along the quais de la Seine.

Whether it rains or whether there’s sunshine, Paris lives in the rhythm of its inhabitants. Walking in Paris is a dream! Since I got rid of my car, I walk around a lot and am always discovering something new, such as an 18th-century extraordinary carved door or façade, a mysterious courtyard or hidden small garden. What could be more exiting and more romantic than running around the Jardin du Luxembourg on a sunny morning with my husband before a nice breakfast at Les Deux Magots?

Paris is a capricious city. While it instantly offers beautiful images to any eye, (think of the magnificent walk from the Musée du Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe through the Jardin des Tuileries), the next step depends on how much deeper you wish to go. Your curiosity will always be satisfied, but you have to look for what you are seeking.

I have lived in different parts of the city and felt each time that I was in a separate village with its own particular traditions. I was born and brought up in the 7th arrondissement, close to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and I am back there now, not a mile away from my birthplace. The 6th and 7th arrondissements are a delightful pleasure for everyday life. Boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, markets, cinemas and restaurants are all so close to each other. My daughter lives in the 3rd arrondissement, where I also spent a few years. They now call it a quartier bobo, with lots of young couples and art galleries around Beaubourg and the Musée Picasso. It’s not far from la Bastille and l’Opéra, with many artists’ studios up to Pigalle.

The 2nd arrondissement between the Jardin des Tuileries and the Place Vendôme is a very up-to-date village now, and a favourite for tourists. More remote and unknown to foreigners is the 9th arrondissement, between the Palais Garnier, l’Eglise de la Trinité and la Butte Montmartre. Most of the theatres and nightlife are there, along with gorgeous 19th-century homes. I love going to Le Musée de la Vie romantique there.

I could not say which is my favourite arrondissement, but I could say where I would not like to live in Paris. Rarely do I go to the 15th or 16th arrondissements, as they are the addresses of my doctors and lawyers! That might be a bit unfair, though, because nothing is prettier that the Bois de Boulogne in any season, and nothing is more interesting than the Eiffel Tower overlooking the Musée d’Art Moderne.

I am a typical Parisian. I love my city, I never go out in slacks (like I did when I lived in New York), and I try to be as elegant as I can on the street. I am friendly with my neighbours, as well as the local pharmacist, the seller at the newsstand, the baker, the florist. I complain as much as them when we talk about politics (it’s true that Parisians complain much too often). I get angry when there is too much traffic. But still, I would never want to live anywhere else.

I love to meet friends at the Café de Flore, and visiting the l'Ecume des Pages and Assouline bookshops just next door. I love going to the market on the rue de Buci and being friendly with the people around. I love the Semilla restaurant on the rue de Seine, the Italian Casa Bini, the exceptional Guy Savoy restaurant in the Monnaie de Paris hotel by the riverside, and so many other eating establishments on both sides of the Seine. This river is definitely the soul of the city, and with that in mind, I will curate my exhibition at Le Musée des Arts décoratifs next year. I enjoy the idea of crossing the Jardin des Tuileries along l’Arc du Carrousel every morning and evening.

I think that a truly Parisian woman should be well-dressed. It is part of our code. Of course, nowadays, everyone is feeling more relaxed and this might not be as true as it was 30 years ago. But still, when you sit outside at the terrace of the Café de Flore, you can easily distinguish a tourist from a Parisian. It’s something in the behaviour, the manner of walking, or in small details such as a hat, scarf or bag.

Regarding the jewellery in my collection, I think of Man Ray, who resided very close to where I live now (with just the gorgeous Eglise St. Sulpice between us) and his almost philosophical sense of humour. I think of Jean Cocteau, who was very Parisian and a jack of all trades. I think of Alberto Giacometti, the soul of Montparnasse. I think of my friend César, who also lived close by, and whose sculpture le Centaure I pass almost every day. These four artists were part of the city between Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I am proud to honour their memory not only as a woman who wears their jewellery, but mainly as an art lover. My sculptor husband Bernar Venet, born in the south of France, is living proof that one can learn to love Paris later on in one’s lifetime. When he held an exhibition on the Champ de Mars 25 years ago, it was the start of a new life for him!

Read an interview with French artist jewellery collector Diane Venet on

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