Bruno Decharme, Paris - MEET THE COLLECTOR Series Part Two


The second part of my MEET THE COLLECTOR series looks at Bruno Decharme who resides in Paris. Bruno set up the abcd collection of art brut, and has put on some magnificent exhibitions around the world, including an incredible exhibition of his collection of La Maison Rouge in Paris in 2014.

Bruno Decharme

Bruno Decharme

1. When did your interest in the field of outsider/folk art begin?

My interest in art brut began in the mid 70s after I had discovered the art collection that Jean Dubuffet donated to the city of Lausanne, more than 40 years ago.

2. When did you become a collector of this art?

A few years after the shock of this discovery I had been very lucky and was able to purchase a small drawing by Adolf Wölfli sold at the price of a postcard: my first acquisition. I had caught the virus. In the early 80s, I began to make a living as a filmmaker, this is how my collection was born; since then it has been flourishing for over 35 years now.

 3. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I studied philosophy and history of art. I am a filmmaker and a film producer.

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot


4. What is it that draws your eye away from contemporary art to outsider/folk art? Or do you collect both?

Art brut is probably more inventive, more "disturbing" than most of the contemporary art. Why? Maybe because most artists in the classic sense of the word have aesthetic concerns, whereas the creators of art brut operate on the mode of mental representation without any intention of manufacturing art. Their works are like scores played on a parallel scene, in another time, which could be called mythological. For these artists of a particular kind, their art is often the fulfilment of a mission, which they must undertake at the risk of seeing their world collapse. Their project is, it seems to me, of a different order than the desire of most artists. In other words, art brut is not to be situated in the register of the symbolic representation that defines art and this is, in my opinion, what makes it radically different.

5. What style of work, if any, is of particular interest to you within this field? (for example is it embroidery, drawing, sculpture, and so on)

All kinds of style, support and material.

6. Would you say you had a favourite artist or piece of work within your collection? And why?

I have 300 artists and more than 5,000 works in the collection. Each of my acquisitions has been thought out, it is a piece of a puzzle that is THE collection, like architecture. It all makes sense in the eyes of the collector.

7. Is there an exhibition in this field of art that you have felt has been particularly important? And why?

So many! And of course all exhibitions organised by abcd :) More seriously, everything that I have seen has nurtured my eye. Even when an exhibition is not great I can find a nugget, an idea that interests me.

 8. Where would you say you buy most of your work from: a studio, art fairs, exhibitions, or direct from artists?

From all these sources.

9. As you have a large collection now, what sort of pieces are you looking to continue to add to your collection?

Everything, but in particular photos, collages and new discoveries.

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot


10. Is there a lot of your collection hung in your home, or is it hung elsewhere, or do you only exhibit several pieces at once in your home?

There are no works in my home, only white walls. I like to see these works in exhibitions to which we lend or exhibitions that abcd organises. And I also like to rediscover these works by spending time in the storage to classify them, organise them, show them to others, etc.

11. You often organise larger shows yourself in other spaces, what inspires you to create these larger shows?

These exhibitions give me the opportunity to think about new ways of showing this art. See these works in a different way. For example, I have been collecting photos for years but only recently did I have the idea of making an exhibition. This year I had organized an exhibition: PHOTO | BRUT at the Rencontres de la photographie in Arles. 500 works are exhibited. This exhibition is a great success, out the other 50 exhibitions it has been recognised as the most inventive. Since the beginning of July 2019, we have received more than 60,000 visitors.

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot

Photo | Brut, Arles, installation shot


12. Your abcd gallery space isn’t open to the public all the time, would you like it to be? And where did the name come from for this?

To be honest this idea of space interests me less and less - management bores me. It requires a lot of energy and I prefer to focus on the collection itself. I would be very happy that the collection is housed in a museum to protect it and that my work is only to develop it and imagine exhibitions. Art Brut Connaissance & Diffusion.

13. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Many other questions and topics I would like to discuss.

Perhaps we should follow up with this in the future Bruno!! :)