Pigozzi is a "French-born Italian". He was born in Paris in 1952 and is the son of Henri Pigozzi, industry captain at the head of the Simca automobile (created by Fiat) brand from July 1935 to May 1963. Pigozzi studied at Harvard University before working for the Gaumont Film Company and 20th Century Fox.
Pigozzi started collecting contemporary African art after visiting the show "Magiciens de la Terre" at the Pompidou Center and Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris in 1989. He has since assembled the world's largest private collection of contemporary African art, together with French curator André Magnin. It is known as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC – the Pigozzi Collection (www.caacart.com), and is based in Geneva. It doesn't have a permanent venue opened to the public, but has been exhibited in over sixty museums and art events around the world, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco; the National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli in Turin, Italy; the Tate Modern in London; the Cartier Foundation in Paris, Paris, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Louis Vuitton Fondation in Paris, The MoMA in NY, The Venice Biennale, Venice, Documenta, Cassel, etc.
In 2006, he also started the JaPigozzi Collection of contemporary Japanese art (japigozzi.com) by young Japanese artists.
In July 2019, Jean Pigozzi donated 45 contemporary African artworks to the MoMA by the following artists: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Jean Depara, Romuald Hazoumè, Seydou Keïta, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Moké, Ambroise Ngaimoko, Paramount Photographers Ltd, and Chéri Samba.
Pigozzi began taking pictures age seven. Since then, he never stopped photographing everything around him, which meant friends, dogs, icebergs, himself and a great many celebrities. His first solo exhibition of photography was at Musée d’art moderne, Paris (1974). His photographs have since been shown worldwide.
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- 1974: Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris
- 1980: Light Gallery, New York
- 1991: A Short Visit to Planet Earth, Gagosian Gallery, New York
- 2008: Pigozzi and the Paparazzi, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin
- 2010: Rencontres d'Arles festival, France
- 2010: Johnny Stop!, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2010; Colette, Paris, 2010; SEM-ART Gallery, Monaco, 2012.
- 2010: Clic Gallery, St. Barths
- 2011: Pigozzi, STOP ! You're too close, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow
- 2012: Unseen International Art Fair, Galerie Alex Daniels-REFLEX, Amsterdam
- 2013: Johnny's Diary - Photographies de Jean Pigozzi, Galerie du Jour, Agnesb, Paris
- 2013: Photographs featured in a film short directed by Brett Ratner for Vanity Fair's 100th Anniversary.
- 2014: My World, Jean Pigozzi, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
- 2016: Johnny's Pool, Jean Pigozzi, Gagosian Gallery, New York City, 2016; The Baker Museum, Naples, Florida, 2016; Galerie Gmurzynska, St. Moritz, Switzerland, 2017; Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany,
- 2017:Galerie Gmurzynska, St. Moritz (2017), and the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin.
- 2018:Scai The Bathhouse, Tokyo (2018), Immagis Fine Art Photography, Munich, and Pilevneli Gallery, Istanbul
In 2007, Pigozzi created a clothing and accessories line featuring bright colors and prints called LimoLand, with the intention of designing clothing for those who “Live to Create”. He is also the creative director of the brand. As of 2010, LimoLine was sold in upscale department stores such as Bloomingdale's, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Nordstrom and had a boutique store in New York City. Pigozzi draws the sketches and outsources the technical aspects of the design and creation of his line.
- "My Friends call Me Johnny" (2014) an interview program, debuted September 3, 2014 on Esquire Network.
Publications of photography books by Pigozzi
- A Short Visit to Planet Earth: Photographs. New York: Aperture, 1991. ISBN 0-89381-479-2.
- Pigozzi's Journal of the Seventies. Doubleday, 1979. With an introduction by Jann Wenner. ISBN 978-0-385-15104-7.
- Catalogue Deraisonne. Steidldangin, 2010. ISBN 978-3-86930-034-4.
- Pool Party. Rizzoli, 2016. ISBN 978-0847849161.
- Me+Co, 2017, Damiani, ISBN 9788862085502
- Charles and Saatchi: The Dogs, 2018, Damiani, ISBN 9788862085922
- The 223 Most Important Men in My Life, 2019, Damiani, ISBN 9788862086714
Publications by others
- Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi. 2005. André Magnin. ISBN 88-7624-296-1.
- African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection. 2005. André Magnin; Alison De Lima Greene; Alvia Wardlaw; Thomas McEvilley. ISBN 1-85894-289-6.
- Jean Pigozzi, dans la peau d'un collectionneur, Catherine Grenier, 2017, Flammarion, ISBN 2081413191
- Les Initiés, Un choix d'oeuvres dans la collection d'art contemporain africain de Jean Pigozzi, 2017, Dilecta, Fondation Louis Vuitton, ISBN 2373720353
- Edwards, Natasha (2015-11-30). "Jean Pigozzi's Massive Collection of African Art". Surface Magazine. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- "Johnny's Pool / The Baker Museum". Artis—Naples. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- "LimoLand: 'Johnny' Pigozzi's Fashion Pitch to Old Rich Men". Bloomberg.com. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- Morel, Guillaume (2017-03-01). "Collection privée : L'Afrique contemporaine de Jean Pigozzi". Connaissance des Arts (in French). Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- Sischy, Ingrid (2010-12-01). "Living Large Is The Best Revenge". The Hive. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- "The 1970s, by Brett Ratner". Vanity Fair Videos. Condé Nast. 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- "Prints Charming: Introducing Johnny Pigozzi's LimoLand Collection - The Window". The Window. 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
- My Friends Call Me Johnny Official Site | Esquire Network