French 18th-century gilt lantern with mercury glass, photo courtesy of Stephane Borraz.
On Tuesday, I met a fascinating French artist! I was at Olivier Gagneau's studio Val d' Or to select frames for five 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints found at Liberty of London, as well as three Moroccan-inspired mixed-media collages by Kristen Robinson.
I noticed an unusual framed piece of art leaning against the wall, with the New York skyline etched in tiny vertical slivers of paper. Depending upon the direction the eye moves, the skyline reflects different building angles and shadows. I'd previously seen this type of intricate work in French flea markets, but never a modern example. So imagine my delight when ten minutes later an older gentleman walked in and Olivier introduced him to me as the artist who'd created the piece!
Happily, the artist spoke excellent English. He invited me to his studio nearby to see more examples of his work. As he seemed so charming and interesting. I went. Not only was his house - one of the rare maisons that remains a private residence, rather than being divided into apartments - lovely, it was chock-a-block with his art. He showed me many fine examples of his work, some part of previous exhibitions at galleries in Paris and Vienna.
Then he took me to the studio behind his house, where more of his work was stored. For me, the real treat that made me gasp aloud in amazement was not his work, but buttons! Dozens and dozens of boxes of antique buttons! Turns out that the artist was once the chief supplier of buttons and sewing notions to the main couture houses of Paris. He showed me articles written about his influence on the world of high fashion in Madame Figaro and Marie-Claire, among other French publications.
Born in Marseilles, Monsieur Andre Molco is 88 years young, with an intriguing past. And his secret for his good health and longevity? Playing golf, keeping busy and remaining interested in the world around him. On Thursday, I'm invited back to his studio - how lucky am I! This time I'm taking my camera.