An artist’s life
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 22, 2002
As director du Centre International d’Art Contemporian in Carros, France, Frédérick Altmann has been the curator of more than 60 exhibitions around the world.
But Altmann said never has he been touched by an artist’s work the way he has been by the work of Troy native, Nall Hollis.
"Nall’s work is profound; it’s honest; it’s deep and it’s magic," Altmann said Thursday during a press conference at Nall’s studio on the campus of Troy State University.
Altmann is in Alabama to do research on the subject of an upcoming book. That subject is Nall.
"When I first saw Nall’s work 25 years ago, I was blown away by it," Altmann said. "I had never seen an imagination like that before. The strength of his work was magic. I knew immediately that Nall would be a major voice in art, just as Dali, Matisse, Chagall, Picasso. I was astounded by his work."
Over the years, Altmann has followed Nall’s career with great interest and admiration.
When Nall brought his "Alabama Art" exhibition to his museum in Vence in the South of France in the summer of 2000, Altmann was in Japan and was disappointed that he was not able to attend.
"I heard many reports from those who saw the exhibition and what they said was that it was the strongest exhibition on the Riviera," Altmann said. "It brought a new world, a new vision to French culture. I wanted to see the culture from which it sprang."
He also wanted to see that culture which had produced this "son of the South" who spoke so often and so passionately about Alabama artists.
"I had never seen an artist who talked with such passion about other artists," Altmann said. "He wanted to share them with the world. I wanted to come and see where he lived and see these artists about whom he talked and whose work he admired, just as passionately as I
admired his work. I wanted to see the source that made him. This man whose personality is a mystery."
This mystery man – this man with the magic touch, this man who wanted to return to his red, clay roots and bring fellow artists into the world arena with him – was so intriguing to Altmann that he wanted to tell his story. He wanted
to find the key that would unlock the mystery of the man and share that secret with others.
Altmann is a highly respected journalist and Nall said he is "blown away" that he would find him interesting enough and worthy enough to make his story the subject of a book.
"I will say the truth," he said. "It is my way to tell the truth. We all have faults and good qualities. We should applaud all of them."
Two men, who admire each other greatly, will sit down together this week. One will hope to unlock a mystery. The other will hold the key.
Altmann’s book is published late this year, readers will probably be "blown away" by the talents of both men.