"Three children" by Valentina Shapiro

In 1973, Michel Brochetain bought a painting by Valentina Shapiro in Tel Aviv. A year or so later Lili and Michel met Valentina Shapiro in Paris where Katia Granoff had organised an exhibition devoted to her work. Michel Brochetain was at this time a keen collector, with strongly held ideas and tastes and a particular predilection for the School of Paris.

Rapidly, however, Michel Brochetain realised that his financial means would not allow him to assemble an important collection of major works of this School and he decided to orient his collecting tastes towards more contemporary art. The masterpieces which he had collected were re-released onto the international art market and he cast about him for ideas for a different collection.

Moreover, at this point, the nature of the art market was begining to change. In the 1960's and 70's the acquisition of a painting by Chagall, Modigliani or Soutine for example was becoming for many a financial investment more than a step along the path of personal taste and artistic appreciation. A collector by vocation, it could be said, Michel Brochetain aspired to something different by which he could discover more about himself and the world of art to which he was so attracted. Upon meeting Valentina Shapiro, Michel discovered a new world; that of non-official Soviet art which was at the time little known or esteemed in the West. It was a revelation to him. He says, "It was like finding a tiny crack with art streaming out of it".

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