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Art Watch : Pierre Le-tan

Art Watch : Pierre Le-tan

Pierre Le-tan is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth – watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 


Who is Pierre Le-Tan

The highly acclaimed and much sought after French artist, connoisseur and collector Pierre Le-Tan was known as the ‘caliph of cross hatching’. It can be said that art was not something that he learnt but something that he lived and breathed.

Le-Tan was born in Paris, in 1950, in a suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, into a highly creative and artistic environment. His father was a renowned Hanoi born French painter, and grandson to Le Hoan, who was the viceroy of Tonkin in the 1880’s. Additionally his mother was intensely dynamic – Paulette Vaux, a journalist for Time and Life magazines. She too came from a journalistic lineage as a niece to photographer Marc Vaux.

“I knew very early on that this was it for me and nothing else: drawing and my art collection.” Le-Tan had said and that he had actually learn to draw at his father’s knee. He was exposed to the world of India ink and pens and the lovely post-impressionistic works of his grandfather. All the rich influences were a ground for the intensely sensitive handling of each of the subjects that he undertook in all his works.

Le-Tan was commissioned by the New Yorker Magazine, at the age of seventeen, for his very first cover. This was the beginning of a long collaboration, and he would go onto work with many other American publications, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Work and Style

Le-Tan was known for his eclectic style, but with a component of being intimate for the viewer. It was his ability to curate a viewership that was unique. Album (1992), epitomises his intimate, eclectic style, which came together in a “scrapbook” like format which held anecdotal representations of his encounters with Greta Garbo, Christian Lacroix and Mick Jagger. Additionally, it also held odd bits and memorabilia from  holidays, pictures and souvenirs, and hundreds of drawings ranging from a cigarette box made by Picasso to his visit to Cecil Beaton’s house to, to Pierre Cardin shoes, even a chair from the Palace of Versailles.

It was this quality of a collector that he honed himself, which was an ability that had its roots in his childhood. He acquired precious lacquered Japanese boxes, Chinese ceramics (which he proclaimed that he had a special passion for), the drawings by Giacometti, Warhol and Hockney – also priceless Greek antiquities and vintage Turkish carpets. 

There is something notable in this quality – because one can see the merging of eastern and western ideas which came together in his mind and through his collection to all whom he cared to share it with. This aligned with his thought of creating a veritable bridge between the antique and the contemporary. It was only natural that this passion for collection would be reflected in his artwork.

A career that spanned over more than 50 years, Le-Tan’s was rich and varied, not to mention dynamic, from set design for film and theatre. He collaborated with his his daughter Olympia’s Parisian fashion label. Not mention the designing of over a 100 book covers and film posters.

He was loved and will be remembered many for his sensitive renditions on paper, he dies at the age of 69 in France.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – do not miss the ART WATCH

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