Interview: François-Xavier Chamagne

Settled for four years now, this young antiques dealer has made his place in the heart of Serpette Market. François-Xavier Chamagne expose on his booth, a wide choice of objects of the 20th century that he conscientiously chooses, without denying his first love for Art Nouveau.

What is your background ?

From the age of 19, I was brought to the antique trade thanks to my mother's partner who was an antique dealer himself. I accompanied him to museums, that interested me a lot. So I started with him because he was ready to help me in my training. I studied for a year at Christie's Education and then started working with my stepfather. Initially, my work was essentially focused on documentation. We worked together for 7 years and then, by mutual agreement, we stopped and I started alone by working directly with the merchants by doing brokerage. I then decided to take a booth in Serpette. I am now settled there for 4 years.

What is your speciality ?

Initially I am specialized in Art Nouveau then I became interested in the 20th century as a whole. I now evolve more in the world of 70's. I expose all types of objects, sculptures, furniture, paintings ... I choose my pieces first by taste, then for their quality and for what they represent within their time. What interests me is above all the beauty of the object, sometimes more than the market reality. I try to buy what I like but still, I try to choose pieces with a good intrinsic quality, and remain consistent with the styles dictated by fashion.

What does Paul Bert Serpette represent for you?

For me, Paul Bert Serpette is the elite of the flea markets. This is the most important antique market and it is here that the best merchants are. I made the choice to settle here in relation to the quality of the merchants and all the pieces presented there.

How do you envision the antique trade?

It's a job that has changed a lot. It is more complicated today to have certainties as one could have before. It is necessary to be more conscientious with the purchase and to try to have sharp selection criteria. We must be demanding in our choices because the competition is more and more important. We have to do many research about pieces because the clients are more and more knowledgeable.

What is the part of your stand that you want to highlight?

I have this beautiful terracotta lamp by Guy Bareff. His work was rediscovered few years ago. This piece was made in the 1960's. It is very interesting because it is important in size compared to what he used to do. It is on three floors, which is rare, and has a patina quite exceptional because it has been outdoors for years.