Dina Vierny

Dina Vierny

Art critic, art dealer, collector, museum director, model
Date of Birth: 25.01.1919
Country: France

Biography of Dina Verny

Dina Aibinder, later known as Dina Verny, was born on January 25, 1919, in a Jewish family in Kishinev. In 1925, her family moved to Paris. At the age of 15, Dina caught the attention of architect Jean-Claude Dondel, a friend of her father, who believed she would make an excellent model for the French sculptor and painter Aristide Maillol. Maillol, then 73 years old and suffering from creative depression, became inspired again with Dina as his muse. Renowned artists such as Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard attributed Maillol's newfound inspiration to Dina's presence in his life.

Dina Vierny

In 1939, as World War II approached, Maillol sought refuge in his home in the foothills of the Eastern Pyrenees in the south of France. At the same time, Dina actively participated in the French Resistance and began collaborating with a group led by American journalist Varien Fray, helping refugees escape from occupied France to Spain. Without Maillol's knowledge, Dina acted as a guide, putting herself at great risk as a Jewish woman. Her father was among those Jews who perished in Auschwitz. When her secret activities were discovered, Maillol, being a native of the region, helped her by revealing secret routes and mountain paths she could utilize. However, a few months later, Dina was arrested by the French police. Fortunately, a skillful lawyer secured her acquittal, and Maillol promptly called her back home from Nice, where she was posing for Henri Matisse.

Dina Vierny

In 1943, Dina was arrested by the Gestapo. Once again, luck was on her side. She spent over six months in prison but was eventually released after Maillol reached out to Arno Breker, Hitler's favorite sculptor, for assistance. In September 1944, Aristide Maillol tragically died in a car accident, bequeathing all his possessions and collections to Dina Verny.

After the war, Dina opened a successful gallery in Paris, where she showcased not only Maillol's works but also pieces by other renowned artists, as well as Soviet dissidents Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov. Dina Verny collected antique carriages, amassing a collection of at least 90, including Toulouse-Lautrec's omnibus and Chateaubriand's carriage.

In the early 1970s, Dina Verny established a museum dedicated to Maillol's art. To purchase the building on Rue de Grenelle in Paris, she had to sell her collection of 654 dolls. In 1995, the museum opened its doors, featuring a permanent collection that includes works by Degas, Kandinsky, Picasso, and other artists.

Dina Verny passed away on January 20, 2009, in Paris at the age of 89. She entrusted the museum she had created to her sons. Olivier Lorken became the museum's director, while Bertrand Lorken became the curator of exhibitions.

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