Jean Chatelus, who died on 6 July 2021 at the age of 82, was an Associate Professor of History and a lecturer at the Sorbonne. He was the author of Peindre à Paris au XVIIIè siècle (Jacqueline Chambon, 1991), but his growing passion for twentieth-century art gradually distanced him from his profession as a historian. Initially oriented towards primitive, surrealist and singular works, his collection gradually turned towards the most contemporary art. Most of us knew him after his university career, living only for his collection, constantly pacing museums, fairs and galleries. I discovered his world thanks to the exhibition Passions privées in 1995 at the MAM, where Suzanne Pagé had devoted a room to him. A few years later, we invited him to participate in the inaugural exhibition of the Maison Rouge L’intime – Le collectionneur derrière la porte in 2004. His bedroom was reconstructed in its entirety.
For many, many reasons, I always thought he was one of the most exciting French collectors. He liked to flirt with what some people thought was ‘bad taste’ when in fact his eye saw far ahead of others. He loved to show his “contemporary cabinet” and to observe his guests amazed by the immense freedom of his choices. A modest and secretive character, Jean was extremely kind and loyal in his friendships.
Without descendants, he decided about ten years ago to bequeath most of his assets to my foundation, which he always held in high regard. His bequest honours us and gives us the mission to preserve his memory in all its aspects. We are planning to publish a tribute book and we would be grateful if friends and art professionals could let us know if they have any photographs or archives that could make this book a success.
Antoine de Galbert