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RENAULT AND MODERN ART

An original partnership between art and leading-edge manufacturing.

A meeting of two worlds, the founding principle of the Renault Collection 

Jésus Rafael Soto, entry hall (1974)

Compiled between 1967 and 1985, Renault’s modern art collection comprises around 300 works by some thirty leading artists, including Arman, Dubuffet, Tinguely and Vasarely. At the end of the 1960s, these visionaries reviewed the place of art in modern society. This period of technical, cultural and social effervescence, forged closer ties between two hitherto distant worlds: art and industry.

Active cooperation 

The Renault Collection was based on an unusual approach. Unlike a conventional corporate sponsorship, it did not seek to purchase completed works of art. The project pursued by the firm between 1967 and 1985 was both more ambitious and more pragmatic in its aims. It sought to foster active cooperation between innovating artists and Renault, a company that was an industrial powerhouse in a country in the throes of sweeping change.

 

Renault provided the artists with technical, logistic and human support. The adventure started with Arman, whose work was based on objects taken from everyday life. He immediately agreed to come and work at the Renault plant.  Through this close contact with technology, he discovered new shapes and materials.

 

This life-size artistic workshop paved the way for other fruitful and unexpected collaborative partnerships: César required a supply of automotive parts for his expansions; Vasarely required expert input from Renault engineers on his technical questions, while Dubuffet, Rauschenberg and Tinguely needed supplies for their ironic comments on the waste of industrial society.

A pioneering approach to corporate sponsorship 

Renault forged close links with these dedicated artists, who took a pioneering, demanding and critical approach to their art. This partnership is celebrated in twenty years of cooperation. Yet the project was risky in more ways than one.

 

The artists were free to choose what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. A bold choice for the time, particularly as Renault was still state-owned. This total freedom produced a number of major works that analyzed essential issues such as the nature of creation and the changing face of consumer society.

 

Although the artists who contributed to the Collection enjoy global renown today, this was not necessarily the case when they worked with Renault. This shows just how bold the project was. It made Renault a pioneer in corporate sponsorship rather than just another art collector.  Today, the public can enjoy viewing the Collection through exhibitions and loans, in the Ateliers Renault, as well as in the world’s greatest museums.