Former Trader Converts Museum into Europe's First Women Artists' Showcase

By: GWL Team | Thursday, 17 August 2023

Former commodities trader turned founder of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art Christian Levett has announced his revolutionary ambitions to transform his esteemed museum into the first establishment in Europe devoted completely to works by female painters. The museum will lock its doors as a sanctuary for classical art at the end of this month and return in June of the following year with its new emphasis, according to an Instagram post that announced the news.

The scenic Mougins Museum of Classical Art, which is located in southern France, will undergo a significant renovation and become an exhibiting museum with a focus on modern and contemporary art. According to a notice posted on the museum's official website, "Christian Levett, the founder and owner of the Mougins Museum of Classical Art, is to give the museum a complete facelift, closing it as a classical art museum on August 31, 2023, and reopening [it] as an exhibition museum in spring 2024, displaying rotating shows of Modern and contemporary art."

The institution's new name, "Femmes Artistes du Musée de Mougins," expresses the dedication of the organisation to honouring the artistic achievements of women throughout history. Levett has assembled an extraordinary collection of works by well-known women artists, which will be shown in the renovated space, in an effort to promote this new approach.

Distinguished artists including Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Howardena Pindell, Cecily Brown, and Nancy Graves have works in Levett's private collection. These pieces, which were selected from Levett's personal collection, will decorate the walls of the restored museum.

In a Financial Times interview from 2018, Levett discussed his vast collecting career and revealed that he has accumulated more than 3,000 works of art over the course of 25 years. His original collection, which started with ancient antiquities, expanded to include modern artwork by well-known artists including Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn. Levett's Mougins Museum has welcomed approximately 250,000 visitors since it opened in 2011, showing the range of his creative assets.

Levett's net worth was listed at £222 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2020. A painting of a fire scene in Delft from the 1600s by a Dutch artist named Egbert van de Poele was the first piece of art he purchased in Paris, he said, adding, "I spent 100,000 French francs for it. From then, everything kind of continued.

Levett's approach to gathering changed during the pandemic-induced lockdown. He started assembling an impressive collection of works by female Abstract Expressionists. Levett discovered lesser-known artists of the time by conducting extensive investigation and inquiry. Many of these works of art, which were displayed in different institutions, were acquired by Levett through auction houses and private collectors.

As a result of his efforts, Levett was able to lend a number of paintings to the Whitechapel Gallery in London for the exhibition "Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940-1970." The Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles is now hosting this exhibition, which runs until October 22.

In addition to his involvement with the museums, Levett is a supporter of two shows at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which run until January 14, 2024, and feature works by UK artists Flora Yukhnovich and Daniel Crews-Chubb. Levett's attention to female artists and promotion of up-and-coming talent is evidence of his love of the arts and dedication to advancing diverse artistic narratives.

Levett's home in Florence, Italy, is a testament to his love of female artists; it contains a complete collection of paintings by British and American female painters. This distinctive collection demonstrates Levett's commitment to advancing the visibility and appreciation of women in the arts.

The Mougins Museum of Classical Art is changing its name to the Femmes Artistes du Musée de Mougins, transforming the art world by emphasising the contributions of women artists and ushering in a new age of respect and understanding for the arts.