Wladimir Sokoloff, the antique dealer's freedom
Passionate about antiques and collector from a young age, Wladimir Sokoloff is a self-taught thirsty for freedom. He searches as he lives, his heart and his curiosity for masters. Lovers of the Old, let yourself be enchanted by this antique dealer in child soul for whom objects rhyme with desire and pleasure to tell.
Tell us about your background
Coming from a family of white Russians steeped in traditions, a thirst for freedom was born in me very early on. Once my secondary studies were over, I freed myself from the family cocoon. Some odd jobs in followed as well as several trips in Africa. I actually crossed the Sahara three times, a kind of initiatory journey during which I discovered other cultures, an encounter with the world and therefore with myself.
My collector's soul was already very present since childhood. Around my 10 years old, I would drag my father to the Flea Market to hunt around and supply my collections, which exasperated him a lot. I walked the alleys of Paul Bert Serpette, in search of treasures. This love for antiques came to me quite naturally, between curiosity and desire for the object. Intrigued by the world of antiques, I started by doing salvage near the Porte de Vanves, where I lived. I met several benevolent antique dealers who encouraged me to get started. I therefore embraced the profession at the Puces de Vanves and immediately knew that I was in my place, where I felt best.
How do you see your profession as an antique dealer?
It is a series of days that are not alike since each piece that we find differs from one day to another ... The relationship to purchase is almost in the order of desire, if I may say so, with all the "sensual" dimension in connection with the object and the need to see it, feel it, touch it. I buy only at the stroke of heart, each new find is the fruit of a total wonder. I keep this same candor in the face of a new piece and the same pleasure of carrying out research in order to identify its origin. Like children, I also like to tell myself stories with objects, I create my own tale through sets. I myself reappropriates the world, culture and restores my perception through my booth, food for the imagination.
The freedom offered by this profession is also considerable. We are masters of our days and can hunt anywhere in the world, traveling. It is a nomadic profession which, in spite of itself, has created a kind of brotherhood. If an antique dealer meets another, a natural recognition operates, as if there was a large family of antique dealers across the borders, lovers of objects and smugglers of stories. Antiquarian for about 35 years, I still consider this profession as special and fun. I learn, I win, I'm wrong… I still have a thousand and one things to discover and this prospect excites me…
What does Paul Bert Serpette represent for you?
This market brings together a cosmopolitan clientele that cannot be found anywhere else, the fruit of its notoriety. I have a particular attachment to Paul Bert, the open part of the market, which I have frequented since the 1970s. To be in touch with my surroundings, I like to be outside to feel every season, I want to shiver in winter and feel the heat of summer. I keep good memories of my arrival here in 1994, the Market history told by the ancients, the booth eclecticism and the exchange of knowledge between antique dealers to train the successors. These experienced antique dealers are still present and continue to tell us the story of improbable objects such as tales and legends of yesteryear. The culture of these timeless antique dealers still shines, I like to call them "genius keys to everything"
What can we find on your booth ?
Some antique dealers specialize and choose to be very sharp in a very specific field. Personally, I cannot tame my taste. I always want to let the wildest of my desires speak for themselves. I nevertheless present mostly Old, I like the fact that an object has been shaped by hand and the “past life” aspect it presents. Who shaped it? What use did it have? What symbol does it represent? The metaphor of the treasure chest to describe a stand inspires me a lot, a booth on which you could almost discover a skin of sorrow in a corner ...
On my booth, you will find both a lacquered Venetian chest of drawers from the 18th century, a presentation table for a burgomaster from German-speaking Switzerland or even Shakespeare's theatrical costume projects dating from the 1940s ... I love the delicacy of a object but also the mystery that hovers around. I currently have an allegorical painting from the end of the 17th century, of which no one finds the real symbolism ... My research is not finished and gives rise to multiple exchanges, as enriching as fun.
Show us a favorite piece
I fell in love with this terracotta baptismal background that I cannot date for the moment. I was very intrigued by this piece and sensitive to its aesthetics, the patina of the feet, the quality of the work, the molding of the owls. It comes from a Breton mansion and was sold to me as a flowerpot, I have no concrete history, only postulates but this is all the magic of the object My research directs me towards religious use, the owls are Christic representations, the diabolo shape is typical of baptismal fonts, the human face is probably inspired by the old testament and the fantastic animals symbolize the underworld. There is a little esoteric side too, which pleases me particularly ...