PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT HANS FONK
The apartment and large roof terrace seem to float high above the daily hubbub of Paris. It is a Jean-Michel Wilmotte creation – a penthouse belonging to Marc Ambrus, who lives amid his modern art. For him, his home feels like a ship sailing high above the hustle and bustle of the French capital.
The view from the terrace takes in the Rodin Museum, the Dôme des Invalides (with Napoleon’s tomb), the Eiffel Tower and, in the distance, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Marc Ambrus lives here, in the heart of Paris, surrounded by his modern art. He feels as if his home is a ship sailing high above the uproar of the French capital. “Silence in my interior is very important for me, along with light and a sense of space. When I’m indoors I have the views, but not the sounds of the city. I live here surrounded by my art. It gives me energy during the daytime and tranquillity at night. Indeed, art – and in my case modern art – is very important for me. After all, you don’t always have inspiration every day, but when I see the artworks they invigorate me. My art is indoor sunshine”, as Marc puts it.
He doesn’t see his artworks as static. They are constantly being moved around, in his Paris home as well as in his apartment in New York. “I soon get bored if pieces stay in one spot for too long.”
And art is everywhere in the apartment: from the kitchen to the large salon, wherever you look there are modern art objects, hanging or standing among vintage furniture made by famous designers like Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret.
The apartment’s layout is as simple as it is spacious. The front door opens into a corridor leading to the master bedroom, the kitchen, a small salon and the large living room. Throughout, light pours in through the windows, which afford views of the city. From the salon a small space containing his office accesses the master bedroom.
One of the highlights of the apartment is the roomy terrace outdoors. It is reached through large doors from the salon and from the master bedroom. “The terrace is an extraordinary place. When the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower it’s magical here. It’s a dream.” His Paris home was designed by the Frenchman Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Born in 1948 near Paris, Jean-Michel Wilmotte began his career after graduating as an interior and furniture designer from Camondo School in 1973. Quickly spotted for his “neither too classic nor too modern”, elegant and pure style, his first major project was refurbishing a bedroom in François Mitterand’s private apartments.
Today, Wilmotte & Associés SA is one of France’s three largest agencies, and is ranked among the world’s top 100 firms of architects. The agency specialises in architecture, interior design, museography, urban design and design. An amusing coincidence is that Marc Ambrus’ home in Soho, New York City, is in a complex designed by another Frenchman – Jean Nouvel. “I love New York. It’s one place in the world where I get inspiration, where I feel reborn and reenergised, detached from work. I try to be there one week in every month. The high ceilings in New York enable me to house my larger artwork. I’ve got more pieces of sculpture there than in Paris”, Marc explained, adding that he is particularly interested in modern, minimal art. Artists like Ed Ruscha from the west coast of America, and On Kawara are two of his favourites.
Organised by the New York Guggenheim museum the retrospective ‘On Kawara – Silenceo’ will be the first full representation of Kawara’s output, beginning in 1964 and including every category of work, much of it produced during his travels across the globe. This special exhibition starts in February 2015. Marc Ambrus is an internet entrepreneur specialising in the theatre world.
He also owns a company that has been organising high-end parties and events, with as the exclusive venue 5 Avenue Marceau, Paris, the headquarters of the House of Yves Saint Laurent, one of the greatest fashion designers of the twentieth century. He shares his passion for art with another famous art collector, Pierre Bergé. They have been close friends for many a year. Bergé was Yves Saint Laurent’s partner, and to prolong the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent, they created the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent at 5 Avenue Marceau, Paris. In 2004, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent transformed the legendary address into this foundation dedicated to preserving the work of Yves Saint Laurent, organising exhibitions and supporting contemporary creative talent.