Art is a matter of creation and passion. Passion is the one guiding Colas Engel since his Parisian childhood. In 1936, fleeing Nazi Germany, his parents joined the famous Montparnasse district then bustling with international artists.
A jazz pianist, his father Ernst, plays in the bars of Montparnasse, at the Shubert, the Chaplin, or the Hôtel de Nice.
His mother Nina reinvents the world with her artist friends. Young Engel meets Alberto and Diego Giacometti, Jean-Michel Atlan, Ossip Zadkine, the art critic and publisher Christian Zervos, Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, and many more. At the Coupole or the café Select everybody knows the Engel children.
Ernst and Nina entertain often. Colas, his sister, and brothers are allowed to dine with the guests, as long as they remain quiet and let the artists talk.
A builder and producer
This “Vie de Bohême” will have a longer lasting influence than the strict French-school education. Colas Engel searches his calling by multiplying small interesting jobs. He sells art books, looks for treasures to resell in high-end flea markets, and builds prototypes for designer Bernard Quentin, and the inflatable line of contemporary furniture for designer Quasar Khan. Finally, Engel converts to decorating hotels, fancy shops, and apartments.
At another period of his life, he organizes music concerts for humanitarian organizations, such as the Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme and the Action Contre la Fain. After difficulties in his personal life, he takes a sabbatical year to discover South America.
Back in France, he tackles the building side of decoration, with special interests in new materials, and again prototype techniques. With his architect wife, Aurélia, they build three houses in Normandie, allying traditional regional techniques with modern interiors and renewable energies. Art though is never far from Colas’s mind, as the many paintings around him attest.
Yes the man is a collector: Ljuba (Serbian), Yuri Cooper (Anglo-Russian), Philippe Weichberger (German), Ladislas Kijno (Polish born French), Andre Rozsda (Hungarian) or Pierre Rachel (French), he buys out of love.
When he moves to Boston in 2011, Colas Engel chooses to dedicate himself to his passion, art. He concentrates on the works of fourteen creators: painters, mixed-media artists, photographers, and sculptors.
They are English, Georgian, Polish, Asian, or French, most have elected France as their creative haven; one though, is Californian signaling the beginning of a new era.
As he moves to New York, Engel wants to encourage synergies between his artists, not only around group exhibitions, but also around common projects, so as to become the new ambassador of this prolific French-American creativity.