The Wellington home of collectors Les and Milly Paris has literally been filled with art. Works hang cheek by jowl as every possible wall space is utilised. The couple’s passion for art has dominated much of their lives and more than 40 years on, they have one of the most sophisticated collections of New Zealand art.
What makes the Paris Family Collection so unique its apparent raison d'être that stemmed from a compelling need to live with art. One of their first acquisitions in the late 1960s was a portrait of a Maori boy by Peter McIntyre. It was this purchase that Les later confessed to having lied about as it was so seemingly beyond their means - Les claimed that it was a gift from grateful clients.
Their dedication to collecting is now manifested in an extraordinary collection of quality works by some of this country’s most significant artists. This exhibition brings together a group of favourites from the collection and includes works by Philip Clairmont, Don Binney, Gordon Walters, Michael Illingworth, Ralph Hotere, Geoff Thornley, Michael Smither and Milan Mrkusich.
This exhibition is an introduction to a collection that is perhaps the most finely nuanced and well-provenanced private collection in New Zealand, with many of the artworks having extensive exhibition and publication histories. Later this year more than 200 works from the collection will be sold at Art and Object.
image: Milly and Les Paris by Peter Peryer (1989, silver gelitin print) and the living room of their Wellington home.