Dialogue of the epochs

In conversation with antiques collector and dealer Maxime Flatry

Photo Credits: Mathilde Hiley

Maxime Flatry collects and deals in antiques, his focus is on French Art Déco furniture. Big names like Jean-Michel Frank or André Arbus are a daily part of his work, even though he himself, at only 31, is probably well below the average age of the typical antiques dealer and has only been working full-time in this field since last year.

Paris, Quai Voltaire. On the left bank of the Seine, you will find some of the city’s most exclusive galleries, including the Chenel Gallery, actually specialized in sculptures of antiquity. Currently, however, in addition to Egyptian and Roman busts, one can also find much younger exhibits there. Art Déco furniture from the twenties to early forties of the last century. Maxime Flatry is currently exhibiting his current pieces here. Here, the Chenel Gallery  serves not only as an empty pop-up store, but rather Adrien Chenel and Maxime Flatry have teamed up to stage a rarely seen liaison, allowing two far-flung eras, Art Déco and antiquity, to enter into dialogue with one another.


Photo Credit: Mathilde Hiley
Photo Credit: Adrien Chenel

In the spirit of harmony, softly dimmed lighting was used in the gallery rooms and an overall attempt was made to create a warm atmosphere. »Ancient art is usually experienced almost exclusively in a museum context; we deliberately covered the gallery’s white walls with fabric and laid out rugs to create a more home-like atmosphere«, says Flatry, describing the curation process. In fact, the exhibition space looks more like a luxurious apartment than a classic gallery. The question of where interior design ends and art begins is obvious here.

Flatry points to a 1935 floor lamp by Serge Roche, which, along with an antique bust beside it, forms a sculptural duo. »If you removed the cables and removed all the technical elements, the lamp would also be a sculpture. The transition is therefore fluid. I sell furnishings that I want my customers to live with, but whether that’s an armchair or a piece of art to sit on, that’s up to each person to decide.«


Photo Credit: Mathilde Hiley
Photo Credit: Mathilde Hiley

When asked whether a dialogue of his Art Déco pieces with other epochs would be conceivable in similar harmony, Maxime Flatry has a clear answer ready: »Yes, I can’t really think of any art phase that doesn’t have a certain commonality with Art Déco. Contemporary art, for example, may not really match Art Déco in its aesthetics at first glance, but the artists’ creative approach is a similar one. Art Deco is the beginning of modernism, many pieces are really intellectually thought out. Jean-Michel Frank, for example, was a master at playing with proportions. Much like today’s contemporary artists, Art Déco is often about intention.«

Flatry uses a console table by Jean-Michel Frank, whom he so admires, as an example. »In your dimensions it is definitely massive, but its proportions make it extremely discreet; Frank tried to make things almost disappear regardless of their size.« The fact that Flatry has a genuine love for his furniture is not only apparent when talking to him; the quality with which he has the individual pieces refurbished also speaks volumes.


Photo Credit: Jean-Michel Frank

»It’s a matter of respect that I find the perfect restorer for each piece of furniture. Refurbishing a classic must always be done gently. And the form has to be preserved, although with fabrics you can definitely dare to do something new«, says Flatry, describing the process of refurbishing the pieces, which he often finds in an imperfect state. In the process, the search for the various pieces of furniture is a true full-time occupation. »On the one hand, I specifically look for certain furniture for clients, but of course I always keep my eyes open to see if I come across a special piece. That’s how the collection of the very pieces that I then display for free sale comes about.« The process works, as the finely selected artworks in the Gallery Chenel prove.[AD]


Photo Credit: Mathilde Hiley
Photo Credit: Mathilde Hiley

“INTERIEUR, Art Déco / Art Classique,” through Dec. 22, 2021, at Chenel Gallery .