Our mission is to sustain, expand and protect the artistic legacy of Guy Peellaert.
A not-for-profit organization, the Estate aims to keep this legacy alive and relevant for later generations of artists and image-makers, and to enable curators, academics, collectors, journalists as well as the general public to rediscover Peellaert’s singular body of work and find compelling new ways of approaching it.
Upon Guy Peellaert’s death in November 2008, the necessity of starting a thorough inventory of his life’s work soon became evident to Orson, his son and only child, and Elisabeth, his widow. This daunting process was to begin only two years later, after the Paris studio on rue de Charonne, where the reclusive artist had withdrawn since the 1980s, was finally emptied along with its overflowing basement floor, allowing the first archival fragments to be extracted from the mass of objects and documents that had been accumulated for over 50 years.
In the absence of any structured archive, catalogue raisonné, official list of collectors or complete press clipping, this promised to be a titanic endeavor. The american reissue of The Adventures of Jodelle in 2013 provided an opportunity to start delving into the astonishing diversity of Peellaert’s Pop period, remnants of which were buried and scattered underground since the mid-1960s, but also to realize the unique set of obstacles that would stand in the way of assessing the artist’s body of work in a comprehensive way, taking into account the many successive breakthroughs that characterized his singular career.
Ever consumed by future projects, right until cancer took his life at the age of 74, Guy Peellaert was never interested in the conservation of his art. For better or worse, counterintuitive to many artists who carefully plan for posterity and delegate the archival of their work to a support system of assistants and galleries in charge of promoting their legacy, Peellaert was known to have discarded or even destroyed a number of major artworks as soon as they had been published, leaving behind only a few hints upon which to try and piece together entire swaths of life and work. He had turned his back on the past quite resolutely, and this shed light on his unique approach as an artist operating outside the art world he had always vehemently condemned. Yet it also threatened to push into obscurity the remarkable innovations of a career spent at the forefront of image-making for five decades.
Faced with the imperious responsibility to protect, sustain and account for the legacy of Guy Peellaert, we have embarked on a long-term digitization process with the invaluable help of collectors, from longtime friends and collaborators to distinguished Hollywood luminaries or members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, passionate individuals who manifested themselves spontaneously or key witnesses we have had to search for patiently and methodically throughout the world—when they were still alive.
We have thus begun to establish the official Guy Peellaert Archive, a collection of artworks supplemented by preparatory collages and sketches, portraits of the artist by leading photographers, a curated selection of articles, interviews and testimonies, correspondance or documentary films. We are assembling these wide-ranging elements with the aim of offering online access to a knowledge base designed to encourage the various research, publishing, or exhibition projects that are submitted to us or that we may choose to initiate.
We hope these efforts will soon allow a shared understanding of Guy Peellaert’s life and work to emerge, along with a renewed appreciation for a fascinating body of work that continues to inspire a new generation of image-makers and free spirits.