The Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, learned with great emotion of the death at the age of 101 of collector and patron Léon Cligman.

Léon Cligman helped create the Museum of Modern Art in Fontevraud on September 19, 2021, thanks to the donation to the State and the Pays-de-la-Loire region of the collection created with his wife, Martine. Rich in 900 works patiently gathered over the past 60 years, this museum testifies to the passion for the arts of Martine and Léon Cligman as well as the generosity that the collector wanted to witness to the country that welcomed him in the dark hours of the inter-two wars.

Originally from the city of Tighina in Moldova, then in Soviet territory, Léon Cligman moved to France with his family in the 1930s to escape the pogroms. As a student at the École de Commerce Supérieure in Paris, the young man joined the resistance in 1941 and became secretary of the Departmental Committee for Liberation in 1944. He then embarked on a career as an entrepreneur in textiles and clothing, in the west and centre of France, not far from the abbey of Fontevraud which constituted the epicentre of this personal geography.

With his future wife whom he met at the end of the war, they initiated and pursued together a well-established family tradition: Martine is the daughter of the collectors Denise and Pierre Levy who gave in their time their fonds of painting of the 20e century to the city of Troyes. The couple will thus let themselves be carried away by its taste and sensitivity bringing together paintings, drawings and sculptures of artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as antiques and extraEuropean objects (Africa, Oceania, Asia, Americas). Confronting epochs and civilizations, their collection reflects the intimate passion they wished to share with the greatest number by giving this rich ensemble to the State and the Pays-de-Loire region. As he liked to point out, cthis collection is the fruit of the common look that Martine and I have on the works, this museum is yours».

This exemplary gesture crowned the commitment of Léon Cligman and his wife to serve the humanist ideals of transmission and freedom for which they have always fought together.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin extends her condolences to his wife Martine Cligman and his family and loved ones.