Dina Vierny

DINA VIERNY (1909 - 2009)


Dina Vierny has devoted her entire life to art. At the same time muse, resistant, art dealer and patron, she led an extraordinary journey in the artistic twentieth century. According to her, art should not be bought because you have money but because you love it.

MyStudiolo traces the life of this inveterate collector with a surreal approach in:

6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote

1925 Born in a Jewish family in present-day Moldova, Dina and her parents went into exile in Paris. At 6, she already developed a taste for art. She picks up pieces of colored glasses from the street to create mosaics. The money that her parents give her to go to the canteen, she spends in small archaeological bronzes, at the time cheap, bought from two antique dealers in the Saint-Germain district. It turns out that none was fake!

1934 Dina becomes the muse of artist Aristide Maillol. The decisive meeting of her life has just taken place. First of all, she agreed to pose for simple portraits. During the sessions, she crams for her chemistry. He recognizes in her the embodiment of the ideal he has been looking for since entering sculpture. Dina has inspired many masterpieces such as Harmony, produced in 1940.

1940 During the war, she went to Paris from time to time to visit Picasso. Resistant, she was contacted by Varian Fry on the recommendations of André Breton to cross the Spanish border. She thus meets the artists of the Air-Bel villa in Marseille. Arrested for the first time, Maillol sends him to ask his dearest friends Bonnard, Matisse and Dufy, who will all become very close friends.

1947 Maillol died three years earlier and made her his universal legatee. On the advice of Matisse and Jeanne Bucher, Dina Vierny decides to open a gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Près at rue Jacob n°36. The success is immediate. So here is Dina embarking on a new life. The gallery is inaugurated with bronzes, paintings and drawings by Maillol. Then there will be Rodin, Picasso, Kandinsky, Dufy... And then the modern Primitives like Bauchant and Séraphine de Senlis. Later, she will defend the Soviet underground.

1963 She fulfills one of Maillol's most dear wishes: that of populating a garden with statues. She asked the Minister of Culture André Malraux to restore the Tribute to Cézanne in the Jardin des Tuileries. He offers to install, in the open air, all the monumental statues of Maillol which she will accept to give to France. She oversees the installation of 18 statues herself, including The River. Photographer Robert Doisneau immortalizes the scene.

1995 She inaugurates the Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol Foundation. She had the idea of preserving her collections and the works of her mentor by creating a foundation. Little by little, she bought the apartments of the two 18th century buildings behind the Bouchardon fountain, before giving them the size of a museum. Since then, successive exhibitions have been dedicated to Maillol, Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Klimt, Basquiat, Bacon, Poliakoff, Magritte, Pascin, Ben, Foujita, Giacometti…

Aristide Maillol, Harmony, 1940

Vassily Kandinsky, Red angles, 1928

André Bauchant, Estate with the notary, 1953

Séraphine de Senlis, Leaves, 1929


  • Dina's resemblance to the female characters of Renoir and Maillol strikes architect Jean-Claude Dondel. Maillol then wrote him a letter "Miss, I am told that you look like a Maillol and a Renoir." I'll settle for a Renoir. " Shy, Dina goes to Marly at the sculptor's house with the instruction to "address to the one who appears to be the oldest with a long white beard". She is not headed for Maillol but for Van Dongen! Everyone laughs, the ice breaks.

  • After several trips to Russia during the 1960s, she discovered the great figures of the Soviet underground, therefore Kabakov and Butalov. She is amazed by their works and these meetings were a revelation.She decides to support them and mobilize all her energy to make them known in the West. She then organized the secret exit of their canvases considered horrible by the Soviet Union and swindled the customs by passing their works for children's drawings

  • The Élysée called her so that François Mitterand inaugurated the Maillol museum on January 21, 1995. Nothing was ready, but she accepted. In just 3 weeks, she succeeded in launching the museum in the presence of the president. But, the next day, the museum must close, for lack of money necessary to invest in a security system. Dina then decides to sell one of the collections closest to her heart (a thousand automated figures and dolls) at Sotheby's in London. The sale was a success.

« When you are a collector, you cannot be completely unhappy.»

Dina Vierny

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