Bruno Pasquier-Desvignes’ Magical Art Sale
An unobstructed view of the home
Hudson Hall Executive Director Tambra Dillon can't resist the call of an instrument made from bike parts and plastic forks.
The artist as a young man.
The artist made an animated version of the French epic poem The Song of Roland with corks and toothpicks. The original sculptures are all still in the house.
A hidden gazebo made from a giant old satellite dish.
After he spent this past winter at his ancestral homestead in Saint-Lager, France, as he always did, it became clear to everyone that artist Bruno Pasquier-Desvignes, 88, and his lovely wife Gwen Reed were not coming back to their Livingston home. Over the past 40 years, Pasquier-Desvignes turned the large old farmhouse and its acreage into a dreamscape lined with paintings, prints, sculptures, whirligigs, doodads and a labyrinthine garden that bombards the senses with an unparalleled sense of wonder, reverence and welcome.
Now, empty of its residents but not their spirit, the house and its thousands of beautiful artworks therein are up for sale. On Saturday, Aug. 18, Hudson Hall has organized The Unicorn Party, an art sale and garden soiree where everything in the home will be for sale… including the house itself. A percentage of the funds from the event will go towards supporting Hudson Hall. As to the party’s unusual name, Pasquier-Desvignes had once hoped a wealthy “unicorn” would purchase the home and its contents so they could stay together as a museum estate. Now all in attendance at the sale have the responsibility to be a unicorn collective. (Though you still have a little time left if you’d like to buy the lot.)
“Our house was a wonderful, magic place,” said Pasquier-Desvignes, reached by phone in France. “If you like it and you buy a piece of art, you buy a piece of me, you get magic. It was our way of life but we got too old. Here (in France) I live in paradise, but I inherited it from my grandfather. The (Livingston) house… it was my great contribution to the world, all of my own.”
Pasquier-Desvignes had a long relationship with Hudson Hall and the Hudson Opera House, displaying his work there and teaching arts programs on one of the styles he helped develop, called IntegrArte, which serves to empower artists in underrepresented and underserved communities around the world by creating beautiful works from discarded objects.
The artist says he owes his career to two things: the power of imagination, and luck.
“I had the imagination to do what I did,” Pasquier-Desvignes said. “My success is because I was amusing and people like to be amused.”
It's impossible to encapsulate the life’s work of Pasquier-Desvignes in words; it's better to walk through his home. He once played the painting hands of Pablo Picasso in the film “Surviving Picasso” directed by friend, fellow Columbia County resident and movie-making legend James Ivory. While honoring the artist at Hudson Hall’s 2014 Spring Gala, Ivory once summed up Pasquier-Desvignes' life with the astute specificity that sometimes only an old friend can muster.
“Like Picasso, Bruno could pick up any old thing lying around, see its possibilities for transformation and then turn it into a new and enchanting thing,” Ivory told the assembled crowd. “Yes, he painted conventionally on canvas, and drew on paper, and made etchings and silk-screen prints. He is one of history’s incomparable painters of flowers but he also made armies out of corks and toothpicks, kings and queens out of the foil off champagne bottles, Thanksgiving turkeys from tin plates, and birds in flight from discarded plastic bottles.
“Bruno’s art is an art of delight — delight first for him, as he makes it, and then for the observer who knows him.”
Pasquier-Desvignes created art wherever he traveled — Jamaica, South America, France, Nepal, Katmandu and other places. He filled Grand Central Station in New York City and the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires with his Musical Bicycle sculptures. In 1998, Roberto Edwards invited Pasquier-Desvignes to Chile. This meeting produced their collaborative book, Cuerpos Pintados, and the creation of IntegrArte. For seven years he directed IntegrArte in Chile and Peru, and more recently in France and Hudson.
Pasquier-Desvignes' life, art and home will blend together to create a transportive and visceral experience for anyone who attends the upcoming event. Buyers will be taking home more than just a historically significant piece of art at a reasonable price; they’ll own a piece of the source from which the artist’s imagination flowed.
“I was just enjoying myself,” Pasquier-Desvignes said, referring to the way the house and grounds became so filled with art that they blended into one important statement on how life and art are one. “I just made it, made it, made it. I had no interest in selling it.”
Despite all the magic in the house, and Pasquier-Desvignes’ unparalleled legacy, it's still a little odd that Hudson Hall — a community theater, arts and events venue — has taken on the task of this fantastical estate sale. Then again, Hudson Hall is a little odd and magical, too. You could almost dream about the two old buildings sitting in the garden over a bottle of wine, creaking, relaxing and reminiscing together.
“He is like family to us,” said Hudson Hall Executive Director Tambra Dillon. “Bruno had deep roots here and made a strong impression on everyone he met. We believe Hudson Hall’s audience is the audience for this sale. So if anyone was going to do it, it should be us and if there’s any group that will love and appreciates having Bruno’s work in their collections, it’s our patrons. It’s been a lot of work to get together but we feel a responsibility to do this the right way.”
Whether you knew Pasquier-Desvignes during his time in our region or not, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this last opportunity to see the life and work of the artist in situ, and then bring a piece of the magic home to add some of his joy to your own life.
THE UNICORN PARTY
An open house, garden soiree and art sale at the Livingston home of artist Bruno Pasquier-Desvignes
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friends of Hudson Hall Preview (reservations required)
2–5 p.m., Open House and Public Sale
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