PARIS.- French director and producer Claude Berri died last week at the age of 74. Berri was born in Paris, France of Jewish origin, the son of Beila (née Bercu) and Hirsch Langmann, a furrier. His sister was screenwriter and editor Arlette Langmann. Berri won the "Best Film" BAFTA for Jean de Florette, and was also nominated for twelve César Awards, though he never won. Berri also won the Oscar for Best Short Film for Le Poulet at the 39th Academy Awards in 1966, and produced Roman Polanski's Tess which was nominated for Best Picture in 1981.
Already in the 1970s, Claude Berri, an astute art enthusiast, had put together one of the most important contemporary art collections in France, fed by his encounters with some of the 20th centurys greatest artists and galleryowners.
His collection brings together some of the greatest masterpices from Giorgio Morandi to Robert Ryman, along with Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman and Dan Flavin, Paul McCarthy, Wim Delvoye, Thierry de Cordier or Subodh Gupta. Claude Berri followed his heart and worked patiently, and determinedly, to give life to a collection for which liberty and emotion are the leitmotiv.
Very quickly he felt the need to share this emotion, the need to see the works afresh through other peoples eyes, as he said. This need pushed him to open his first exhibition space, Renn Espace, in 1990 on Rue de Lille in Paris. People still remember the vast museum-like shows that were held there: Robert Ryman, Yves Klein, Daniel Buren, Sol LeWitt, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Simon Hantai.