The Aesthete: Almine Rech talks personal taste

Contemporary art dealer and collector Almine Rech has influential galleries in London, Brussels, Paris and New York

Almine Rech at home in Paris
Almine Rech at home in Paris | Image: Jouk Oosterhof

My personal style signifier is my stiletto heels. They can be two inches or five – height is not the issue – but they must be very thin. I don’t have a preference for any one designer but Chanel and Fendi do winter boots with just the right heel. chanel.com. fendi.com. 

The last thing I bought and loved was a small etching by Rembrandt called Young Man in a Velvet Cap – a 17th-century portrait of the son of a preacher. I collect etchings: when I see one in good condition I’ll try to buy it. This piece is only about 10cm x 7.5cm, and I’m going to hang it at home. 

The mushroom truffle soufflé at La Grenouille
The mushroom truffle soufflé at La Grenouille | Image: Dave Giordano

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a photograph by Sacha Guitry of Claude Monet, taken in 1915 when the artist was an old man. When I was young, I studied history of art, painting and drawing and I still love to paint. I once copied Monet’s Giverny Bridge and when I came across this photo of him in a book, I incorporated it into my painting. If it comes up at auction I will buy it. 

A recent “find” is the New York art dealer David Tunick. He specialises in Old Master prints and drawings, and doesn’t have a gallery as such. You visit by appointment, and it feels like visiting him at home. 13 East 69th St, New York, NY 10021 (+1212-570 0090; tunickart.com).

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The best gift I’ve given recently was tickets for Puccini’s Tosca at Salzburg Easter Festival. It’s hard to get tickets for Salzburg, especially for Tosca. +43662-804 5361; osterfestspiele-salzburg.at.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is southern Andalucia. My husband Bernard [Ruiz-Picasso] and I were invited to stay at a ganaderia, a ranch where bulls are raised and trained to fight matadors, near Malaga. These ranches feature beautiful family houses similar to ancient Spanish manors, but I guess we won’t see them for much longer as bullfighting is dying out. 

Rech’s Valentino lace top. Young Man in a Velvet Cap by Rembrandt. La Muse by Constantin Brâncus¸i. Christian Dior 693 eyebrow pencil, £20.
Rech’s Valentino lace top. Young Man in a Velvet Cap by Rembrandt. La Muse by Constantin Brâncus¸i. Christian Dior 693 eyebrow pencil, £20. | Image: Bridgeman Images. David Tunick inc, New York. Jouk Oosterhof (2)

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is made-to-measure silk pyjamas from the ancient Vietnamese village of Hoi An, which is still authentic in places. There are lots of tailors there selling beautiful silks and brocades, in hundreds of colours. They work quickly, as most of the cuts are traditional, and the pyjamas can be ready within 24 hours. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was at La Grenouille in New York, where I ate the best mushroom truffle soufflé. I love it there because it’s not noisy: it has velvet seats, carpets, fabric on the walls and soft lighting. 3 East 52nd St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-752 1495; la-grenouille.com).

A pair of Rech’s stilettos
A pair of Rech’s stilettos | Image: Jouk Oosterhof

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a red lace top by Valentino. It looks like a sweatshirt as the cuffs and neckband are knitted with black and white stripes. I wear it with black jeans or trousers. 39 Old Bond St, London W1 (020-7647 2520; valentino.com).

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Brassaï’s Conversations with Picasso. They were good friends, and the book records the times they spent together at the artist’s atelier in Paris in the second world war. It reveals things my husband, who is Picasso’s grandson, didn’t even know – such as how they lived during the war and what exactly was in the studio. 

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The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Brâncus¸i, but his pieces rarely come to market. Within the canon of modern sculpture he is very radical and important. 

The grooming staple I’m never without is my Christian Dior 693 eyebrow pencil. I like my eyebrows to be more accentuated than they are naturally, and I’d be desperate without it. £20; dior.com

An object I would never part with is a platinum ring by the late Parisian jeweller Alexandre Reza, with a horizontal diamond that lies flush with the whole band. It was the first piece of jewellery my husband gave me. alexandrereza.com.

My favourite app is WhatsApp. It’s the only app I use, as it’s so easy for sharing pictures.

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