PARIS — When ARTINFO France sat down with Espace Pierre Cardin’s Nicolas Laugero Lasserre at the art and culture venue (which he’s headed since 2008), the collector-turned-art executive had just purchased a new piece. “I fell in love with it,” he said, glancing knowingly at a gallerist who managed the sale.
A phrase that seems all the more credible knowing Lasserre’s background collecting, and cultivating, “contemporary urban art” — a term he much prefers over “street art.” A former actor, the now-37-year-old Lasserre developed an interest in visual art after moving to Paris in 1996 to study theatre. As he turned from the stage to more behind-the-scenes work directing museums and other cultural venues, he also began collecting — first with any and all pieces that interested him, and after later meeting gallerist Magda Danysz, with more focused purchases of both original works and prints by artists such as JR, Speedy Graphito, Miss. Tic, and Invader.
A truly self-taught expert (often considered a disappearing breed), Lasserre’s tastes often run towards those produced by artists who aim for access to the world at large. “I’m really into the idea of cultural democratization,” he explains. “Urban art is still accessible to the general public, outside the auction room. Shepard Fairey, for example, still sells limited-edition posters on his website for only 50 euros! Everyone can afford them.”
Since taking the helm at Espace Pierre Cardin (Lasserre is also the founder of art-and-culture website Artistik Rezo), he’s upped his collection to include most of the historic names in the street art movement, many of which are being showcased in a show at Vasari Auction in Bordeaux. The one-month show includes pieces by legends such as Blek Le Rat, Futura 2000, Jef Aerosol, and Speedy Graphito, along with auction-house darlings such as Banksy, JR, Invader, and Shepard Fairey, and upstarts such as Ludo and Swoon.
Other works from his collection (now at a cool 300) remain propped in his office in the 8th arrondissement — blood-red propaganda posters by Fairey, as well as a Rero piece announcing hate for Serge Gainsbourg in the artist’s usual crossed-out letters.
Now seasoned as an authority and as a collector, Lasserre knows what he’s doing when he buys a piece, though he still makes the occasional impulse purchase. “I try to construct groups of series, of works by a single artist, and to give a coherent direction to my collection,” he said. And why such a focus on urban art? In short, it’s by “committed artists who react to and resist the present,” Lasserre says.