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Jacques Barrère,
a pillar of the French Asian art market for 54 years

Jacques Barrère has devoted his life since 1969 to the negotiation of ancient Asian art. Recognized as a great specialist in his field, he has been contributing for many years to the promotion of Chinese and Japanese art, to understanding it, to appreciating its unique beauty, and to transmitting it by training specialists in the discipline.

For its new edition, the Printemps Asiatique has decided to honor this exceptional and inspiring career.


In 1978, the Jacques Barrère Gallery opened on rue Mazarine in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Since then, it has regularly participated in the most prestigious fairs and exhibitions: Biennale des Antiquaires, Shanghai Fair, Asia Week New York or the TETAF in Maastricht, Basel and Singapore.

In 1980, under the patronage of its president Pierre Vandermersh, Jacques Barrère joined the board of directors of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA). He also became president of the Compagnie Nationale des Experts, following his meeting with Alain Vian, its founder, who initially entrusted him with its modernization.


In 1993, the Jacques Barrère Gallery organized the first in situ return of an art object to China with the reinstallation of the bronze windows of the Dong Ting in the Summer Palace in Beijing. The same year he participated in the first Antiques Exhibition "Treasures" in Singapore.


Appointed expert to the Court of Appeal of Paris, but also Donor to the Guimet Museum and Grand Donor to the Cernuschi Museum, Jacques Barrère was made Knight of the Order of National Merit and Knight of the Legion of Honor for all the union and cultural work accomplished.


Jacques Barrère agreed to be interviewed for Printemps Asiatique. This is an opportunity to learn more about this Asian arts enthusiast.

First, could you tell us about your background? How did your vocation for art and the Far East come about?

In the 1930s, my maternal grandfather was a successful wholesaler of Japanese crafts. He died prematurely, with no continuity in the business, the family was left destitute and in the 1960s my mother opened an Asian second-hand stand at the "flea market" which I took over in 1969.

Self-taught, auditor at the Louvre School, I learned my trade "on the job". I bought and sold without taking into account the cultural importance of the objects until one day I discovered one of my objects exhibited and honored at the entrance of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I then decided to move to 36 rue Mazarine, in Paris Rive gauche in 1978.


Japanese industrialists from the Arita region began to repatriate their porcelain: I met the great Japanese merchants, Sakamoto San, Fujishiro San, who did not take into account my social status and royally invited me to visit the greatest museums and their private collections. They are the ones who taught me my trade, Kakiemon, Nabeshima, Kutani, Arita porcelains and Chinese art too. My purchases were made in public sales as with my colleagues, dealers and second-hand dealers.

At the same time I collected Chinese cloisonne and was fascinated by Chinese, Japanese

Buddhist and Greco-Buddhist  sculpture.


Time did not matter, my passion sublimated everything. It allowed me to meet extraordinary people that I could not have met otherwise.


As the Japanese market weakened, I specialized in sculpture. At the time, my clientele consisted of passionate private collectors. The prices were not at the current levels and speculation was not an issue.


I continued my career and from 1980 I met Chinese, Japanese and Korean artists, both Parisian and visiting, who took advantage of my space to exhibit their works, which were unknown at the time: Guilin Kim, Park Dong Soo, Chu Ko, Sun Chao, Chen Jian Hong, Xiao Fan Ru, Wang Keping, Ma Desheng, Chang Kai Yuen, Wu De Chun, Yasse Tabuchi, Hiroshi Harada, etc.

Then recently a new passion emerged for the Japanese masters of the 50s of the 2nd school of Paris: Imai, Sugai, Domoto, Key Sato…

The Printemps Asiatique has decided to honor your career for its new edition, could you tell us about your connection to the event?

It is a strong link since the idea of launching Printemps Asiatique in Paris came from my son, Antoine Barrère, who remembered the flourishing Parisian market from the 1930s to the 1990s of the great houses: CT LOO, Mahe, Compagnie de Chine et des Indes, Perret Vuibert, Moreau Gobart, Beurdeley who sponsored us.

Which object has marked your career?

Two objects have particularly marked me.

The large Ming Buddha, 3 meters high, saved from the scrap heap at the beginning of my career and carefully preserved until it could be resold to China.

There were also the windows of the bronze pavilion of the Summer Palace, found at Drouot and put back in place in Beijing thanks to the gallery's negotiations.

Which artist would you like to present?

As a friend of Chu Teh Chun, I would have liked to exhibit his work. We both didn't "dare" at the time: we were modest !

Your favorite museum?

The Guimet Museum remains the base and the school, but I have a weakness for the Cernuschi Museum, very complete and on a human scale, always up to date with living art.

The book that inspires you?

The voices of silence, by André Malraux.

Could we know more about your projects?

Continue to learn.

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