Jean-Marc Jager, the collector

Jean-Marc Jager, the collector
Jean-Marc Jager, the collector

To stop at this antique dealer's booth installed at Paul Bert Serpette for 38 years is to understand his rich journey as a collector. Lighting, photographs, African sculptures… what could be the mysterious common denominator? Talking with this objects lover highlights that the coherence of this set. The common point is called Jean-Marc Jager, antique dealer / collector. 

What is your background ?

At 14 years old I dreamed of being a fashion photographer to rub shoulders with beautiful girls. Finally, after two unsuccessful college years, I found myself in education. At that time, I discovered that we could be bored at work and that was catastrophic for me.

From the age of 20, I had a lot of fun hunting around, I couldn't help it. It comes from my passion for books that, very early, I started to accumulate. Art books , on painting, photography, then on primitive art… I have a very large collection. After a while, I told myself that these books had to serve me for something other than reading them and I wanted to find the masks that I saw on the pages. This is how I got into the pleasure of being a buyer. With a little twinge at heart that involves resale, we switch to the state of an antique dealer.

My great pleasure is to be very happy to get up in the morning to go bargain hunting. My second pleasure is to be a collector. This is the best way to hunt for my personal collection. I have always done collections that were out of step with what I presented on my booth. When I sold paintings in the 80s and 90s, I collected light fixtures. When I started selling my light fixtures, I started buying art primitive. It's a way of working that allowed me to have fun. As an antique dealer, I am also a collector and I can't separate the two. 

At the moment what can we find on your booth ?

Currently on my booth, we arrive at a mixture of everything that has always fascinated me. I find myself with paintings, lights, which for me are not simple lighting objects but real light sculptures, and now, African art objects. My booth is a reflection of my successive collections and my favorites. 

What do you particularly like in African art?

What strikes me in African art is the phenomenon of inventiveness with regard to the figuration of a character. African artists have invented the most amazing forms of figuration. In Western culture, we began to represent the human figure in another way, only from the moment when artists like Picasso, Vlaminck or Derain made him discover by soaking in their works. I am fascinated by this other vision of the figuration of African art who made the 20th century break the usual conventions of human representation.

What is your favorite moment?

I just bought this mask from Burkina Faso, which comes from a very small ethnic group called the Toussians. It is a rare plank mask, and for me a real modern abstract painting This object was created to make divination. It is adorned with deliberately broken mirrors, representing an unknown deity, both for the wearer of the mask and for those who look at it.

What does Paul Bert Serpette represent for you?

Paul Bert Serpette is a second family, for 38 years, I spent half of each week of my life there!

It is a very stimulating place. In one day, we can meet completely different people. People who come here have in general, a fairly precise idea of what they want, are passionate and know the objects very well. Sometimes even, they know more than we do about certain things and the discussions are very enriching. Customers bring us as much as we can bring them. We have people from all over the world, and when people are passionate, there is no language barrier. Sometimes we understand each other in a glance ...