RELEASE: ALAIN DEMACHY - Paris, 1 October 2013


Paris – Christie’s is pleased to launch its prestigious sales season on October 1st, 2013, with an incomparable selection of works from the collection of renowned Parisian interior designer, architect and gallerist, Alain Demachy. For over 30 years, the free-spirited and curious collector enriched his gallery with more than 200 pieces of furniture and works of art, which he had gathered from his journeys across Europe. Until recently, Alain Demachy displayed these objects in his extraordinary gallery facing the Louvre, by the banks of the Seine. Eclectic, and transcending the boundaries of style, Alain Demachy is regarded as France’s leading pioneer in collecting Arts & Crafts, Scandinavian and Portugese furniture, with the tendency to combining neoclassicism with design from the 1950s. His open minded attitude and thirst for discovery also led him to interior design and architecture, enabling him to work alongside exigent patrons such as Edmond de Rothschild, Paola of Belgium, and the Great Duchess of Luxembourg.

Alain Demachy spent his whole life surrounded by artists. His father - a great fashion illustrator from the Post-War era - regularly entertained illustrious guests such as Christian Bérard, André Derain, Jean Cocteau and Max Ernst. As a young man, Alain also spent time with movie-maker Eric Rohmer, who happened to be his French and philosophy teacher at the time, and who took him out of school to watch movies in the Latin Quarters of Paris, where he met the future directors and actors of the Nouvelle Vague. This lifestyle evolved when his collaboration with prominent magazines such as Paris-Match and Marie-Claire, and his numerous projects as an architect and a decorator allowed him to befriend the jet-set of the 1960’s.

Alain Demachy was aged 24 when he began working for some of the most important patrons of his time. While working for Edmond de Rothschild, he redesigned the Hotel Particulier in the rue de l’Elysées, the Château Clarke in Bordeaux, and made anew the prestigious Hôtel du Mont D’arbois in Megève. For the Great Duchess of Luxembourg, he restored the furniture of the four castles formerly occupied by the German army. Demachy’s clientele also included fashion designer Robert Ricci, movie star Brigitte Bardot and French music legend Johnny Halliday, as well as important companies such as L’Oréal and the Union Bancaire Privée. Although such grand projects lead him to travel internationally, the architect was equally at ease when it came to decorating local private homes and offices.

Alain Demachy: “Just like a family doctor, my clients perceive me as their family. I knew their tastes, their way of life, and was able to create atmospheres that suited their vision, because they trusted me.”

Following his collaboration with the great antique dealer Didier Aaron, Demachy began his business in 1980 under his own name, in the majestic 800 square-meters space of the Camoin-Demachy Gallery. The stellar roll call of collectors and fashion designers who visited his shop included Hubert de Givenchy, Estée Lauder, Edmond Safra, Peter Marino, and François-Joseph Graf. Alain Demachy used this space to exhibit the various objects and works of art he collected from Sweden, England and Italy. The diversity of these objects reflects his insatiable curiosity: « I can get interested in anything, from lace to china teacups. I ran this antique business with a decorator’s eye, knowing what was about to be in fashion, but always avoided to get myself stuck in a style or a period. People used to say I was an eclectic: I made this word my banner ».

From Louis 14th  to the flowering of artistic movements of the 19th  and 20th  century, Alain Demachy’s keen eye and curiosity enabled him to learn and discover what these periods have best to offer. A Louis 15th bookcase for instance (estimate: €7,000 - €10,000, illustrated above), decorated with a Chinese inspiration, bears testimony to his taste and appreciation for foreign cultures and crossed influences. A pair of chairs by cabinet-maker Jacob-Desmalter, previously from the property of the French Senate, (estimate: €8,000 – 12,000), and a Neo-Renaissance ebony cabinet by Hunsinger & Wagner (estimate: €5,000 – 8,000, illustrated on page 2), reveals his attentiveness and sensitivity to the creative aspect of 19th century decorative art.

Alain Demachy was a great supporter of decorative styles that were yet to be known in France. Far from limiting himself to objects produced in French style, the decorator felt an early and deep interest for the Vienna Secession style; Loo and other prominent members of this avant-garde group, such as Koloman Moser, represented in this auction by a rare flower box (estimate: €8,000 – 12,000). The British Arts & Crafts movement, the experiences made at the same time in Scandinavia, with for instance Johan Borgersen’s bench (estimate: €4,000 – 6,000, illustrated on page 3). Never tired of looking for beauty, Alain Demachy blended his findings with a keen decorator’s eye. Aside of furniture by the most important makers, Venitian mirrors, carpets by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann or Marion Dorn, fitted together in perfect harmony. This open mind, this taste of art from all over the world, is what makes this sale unique.

Lionel Gosset, Collections Department Director: « The sale we are presenting is a tribute paid to a free man, free from the boundaries of style and time. Eclecticism and curiosity led Alain Demachy’s choices, and I invite amateurs to come numerous to discover another face of great French taste ».

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