16 / 12 / 2011

3 questions for ...

Interview of Cléry Bouter, Societe Generale Advisor on contemporary art purchasing

A Societe Generale Advisor on contemporary art purchasing? He thought he was just an art-lover. Not quite! He tells us about his experience.

Cléry Bouter © Yana Vetcherkovskaya
"Working with art experts? It's a different world, we come from completely different planets and we don't play by the same rules. It was a shock for both sides!" exclaims Cléry Bouter. A study manager at the Corporate and Investment banking Resources Division, Cléry was interested in contemporary art but never dreamed that he would become a purchasing advisor for our contemporary art collection. "The Collection is beautiful, you can't miss it, and I was already familiar with it: it was mainly having this opportunity that made me want to contribute to it." He applied... and was accepted! All of this happened last year, when Societe Generale's contemporary art collection expanded its selection committee from two to four art experts and added four Group employees who work in pairs with the experts

"The Selection Committee's first job was to choose the works to be presented at an initial board meeting. I still consider myself an outsider, and at times it's hard for me to find the words and arguments to defend a work I've proposed and believe in to the experts. But that might be the key to the committee's work: striking a balance so that we can make selections which fit into the Collection and its spirit, while taking risks and betting on young and unfamiliar talents."

Cléry confides that, "My favourite purchase that we've made is definitely "Etat Montagne" by Mélanie Vincent. She's only 26 years old and I feel that it's very important to purchase works by young artists, as well as from more experienced artists."

How would he sum up his year on the committee? "Now I really feel that the Collection is alive! I have a firsthand view of the care taken to maintain and enrich it, to get it out of the Towers and to get people talking about it."