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Private Auction: Globe-trotting Friends of Haiti Gather in Paris

PIASA, a Parisian auction house, in conjunction with Le Centre d’Art de Port-au-Prince, Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète (FOKAL), La Fondation pour le Rayonnement de l’Art Haïtien, and Fondation Daniel & Nina Carasso, hosted an auction to raise money for Haiti’s Centre d’Art, which was damaged in the 2010 earthquake. 

The exposition, “L’Art Haitien de 1940 à Nos Jours” (Haitian Art from 1940 to Present Days), opened October 19 to close a nearly weeklong celebration of Haitian art and culture. 

One highlights of the week was Les Voix d’Haiti, a concert at Parisian nightclub New Morning where Haitian artists performed for hundreds of people. Haitian singer James Germain said he was happy he was to be part of the event and that the concert was his way of using his voice to serve a great cause. Music icon Beethovas Obas came from Belgium for the event, and the young singers Ayiiti and Melissa Laveaux were also part of the show. 

On the day of the auction, the guests trickled in, as diverse as they were rich: Marie Laure Croiziers de Lacvivier, the granddaughter of Léopold Sédar Senghor, writer, poet, and former president of Senegal; Vanessa Matignon, the Ambassador of Haiti in France; and Haitian businessman Mathias Pierre were among the distinguished guests. Art lovers, musicians, collectors, journalists, businessmen, friends of Haiti—all were there to show support. The Centre, founded in 1944 by American painter DeWitt Peters, collected nearly 100 pieces of art for the auction, from artists such as Préfète Duffaut, Prospere Pierre-Louis, Georges Liautaud, and Wilson Bigaud.

Axelle Liautaud, president of the Centre’s board, said the auction was promising. The highest-selling piece of the night was “Femme en son Boudoir” by Simil (Emilcar Similien). The 1979 painting sold for 32,000 euros (over $37,000 USD). Other notable pieces included “Femme Endormie” by Luce Turnier (23,000 euros) and “La Sirene Jetant son Filet” by Rigaud Benoit (18,000 euros).

Liautaud’s goal is to ensure that Haitian art gets the recognition it deserves, and return it to its glory days of the 1940s and 1950s. 

The Centre d’Art is considering auctions in other cities around the world, and we’re packing our bags. Next time, we will even bring something home.

The exposition was the second of its kind. In 2015, the Embassy of Haiti in Paris held an art exhibition called “Haiti—Two Centuries of Artistic Creation.” The Grand-Palais, one of the biggest exhibition centers in Paris, hosted the exposition, introducing the beautiful Haitian culture to thousands of visitors. 

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