The Beginning of a Collection

In 1960, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought an Ivorian sculpture from Charles Ratton, an art dealer whose gallery was located on the Rue de Grenelle in Paris. The Senufo bird, named for the African community that had produced it, was the couple’s first acquisition. Saint Laurent and Bergé would go on to assemble an incredible art collection. When Bergé eventually decided to sell their collection at auction in 2009, this sculpture was the only work he kept.

Duchamp was the one who taught us that—what I’m going to say will shock many people—the most important thing in art is not always the result, but the artistic act. The artistic act of an African sculpting this absolutely admirable thing is ultimately just as important as that of Brancusi. The result is in many ways the same. It’s just as beautiful; the emotions it creates are just as great.

Pierre Bergé, interview for Histoire de notre collection de tableaux.