Last Saturday, 22 March 2014, the quintessential artist-collector, Jean Willy Mestach, passed away. His passion and eye were inspirational for a great many collectors. Mestach understood African art as no other. An artist himself, his collection was unmatched in terms of personal aesthetic choices, generated by a strong emotional and intuitional response to African art. Each object in his collection related integrally to all others, creating an ensemble widely considered as one of the best collections of African art ever and a work of art itself. I was fortunate enough to visit his apartment that looks down over the Sablon once in 2008, which for me was a life-changing experience. In his studio, a magical place, Mestach lived, worked and slept among his masterpieces, slowly and unconsiously becoming one himself. His continuing influence will forever be felt in the world of African art. The 2007 publication on his collection, L’Intelligence des Formes, the catalogue of the exhibition Mestach l’Africain, is a must-have. Rest in peace, Mr. Mestach.
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