The extensive collection of Joan Obiols-Vié, a famous Catalan psychiatrist and friend of some of the most renowned artists on the Catalan art scene of the time, will be put out to tender at Setdart on December 16.
When speaking of a collector psychiatrist, the ghost of Hans Prinzhorn no doubt haunts our imaginations. It is known that this German psychiatrist unintentionally revolutionized contemporary art history by giving priority to the plastic creations made by his patients. His collection of “alienated art” greatly influenced Art Brut (led by Dubuffet) and, later, Outsider Art.
But it is not this link (on the other hand, already too exploited) between art and madness or between art and therapy that motivates the writing of this article.
Conversely, the Catalan psychiatrist we are going to talk about, Joan Obiols Vié (Granollers, 1918-Cadaqués, 1980), was a great lover of art regardless of his profession. Although his sensitivity must have been heightened and skewed by his deep understanding of the human spirit, it was not “art made by madmen” that encouraged his commitment to the newest art.
In fact, throughout his life He proved to have a natural intuition for discovering valuable gems when they had not yet begun to shine. From a very young age, since the fiftiesWhen his economy was still far from being comfortable, he began to buy works from painters and sculptors with whom he would become friends . Many of them would end up being great figures in the art world. Among his early acquisitions he already had pieces from the main members of Dau al Set: Joan Ponç, Antoni Tàpies, Joan Tharrats, ModestCuixart… Over the years, his dowsing rod would not stop giving him magnificent insights: Joan Miró, Antonio Saura, Eduard Arranz-Bravo, Rafael Bartolozzi, Perejaume, Josep M. Subirachs, Josep Uclés, Joan-Pere Viladecans, Juan Hernández Pijuan, Sergi Aguilar… The list is immense and of juicy quality. A large part of its collection is made up of Spanish artists, although it also has works by Marx Ernst, Fontana, Calder, among others.
Many of these great names will be represented at the next contemporary art auction, to be held in Setdart on December 16, with work from the Obiols collection.
“Sometimes coincidences acquire a symbolic value”, comments Jordi Obiols, son of the great collector and renowned psychiatrist: his premature and unexpected death, caused by a heart attack, took place in Portlligat, at the home of Salvador Dalí, “whom he treated as doctor and as a friend ”. Josep Obiols passed away at the age of 61.
His had been a passionate and impulsive collecting, far from any speculative pretense . Just as he frequented artists’ workshops, walked through old-fashioned bookstores, through street markets … The compulsion to buy, touch, possess … satisfied in his case a deep spiritual thirst, and perhaps, a longing to endure beyond physical life , in the material life of the objects that he had treasured.