Q&A with Christine Dutreil, Executive Director of the Anne Fontaine Foundation

Paddle8 is excited to host the Anne Fontaine Foundation‘s Trees in Focus Benefit Auction, featuring works by 35 inspired photographers to raise funds for the Foundation’s reforestation efforts in Brazil. We had the chance to speak with the Foundation’s Executive Director Christine Dutreil about the founding of this organization, projects in development, personal highlights from the auction and more. Read below for the full Q&A.

Paddle8: Can you give us a brief history of the Anne Fontaine Foundation? What was the impetus for the founding of the organization, and what are the central goals?

Christine Dutreil: French-Brazilian fashion designer Anne Fontaine created the Foundation in 2011 in order to protect the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, one of the most endangered forests in the world. Anne Fontaine was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, where she lived very close to nature until the age of 20. She discovered the virtues of the tropical forest by sharing the life of the Canela tribe in the Amazonian rainforest. From this experience she has always kept a deep concern and appreciation for the environment. She later moved to France where she developed her own successful clothing brand, “Anne Fontaine”. By creating the Anne Fontaine Foundation, she has decided to commit herself to the long-term goal of restoring the Atlantic Rainforest’s ecosystem.

P8: What are some past initiatives or projects that you have worked on that you found to be especially successful?

CD: The Foundation is a young organization, but we already have a number of artistic projects and collaborations. For last year’s Forest Day – an annual event during which all Anne Fontaine stores donate 50% of the day’s profits to the Foundation – we collaborated with French origami artist Charles Macaire in order to create a unique series of 40 beautiful paper trees.

As Director of Communication for the French Group Wendel, I organized a partnership with the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson. Every two years, Wendel supported the financing of a Cartier-Bresson grant in order to help a photographer with a year’s worth of projects.

P8: What are some other projects you have in development that you are particularly looking forward to?

CD: Our mission is to raise funds to support projects of reforestation but it is also to raise awareness about forests and their protection. So, along with working on our itinerant photography exhibition’s next venues around the world, the Foundation is also busy organizing Art contests in the primary schools of New York and Rio de Janeiro. Last year’s was a success, and this year’s theme is botanical illustrations. Through artistic initiatives of this kind, the Anne Fontaine Foundation aims to develop environmental awareness – at all ages!

P8: Can you share some personal highlights from the auction? What about the works specifically grabs your attention?

CD: All the works featured in the auction have been chosen on purpose for their artistic reflection of Nature’s wonders and for the message they carry. They all convey different styles and artistic sensibilities, but the one thing they have in common is the theme of the exhibition: Trees. While some photographers have chosen to portray Nature with classic aesthetics, others have preferred a modern and inventive touch… Considered collectively, this ensemble of photographs reveals the many faces of a common element.

P8: Have you seen any exhibitions recently that you found particularly successful or moving?

CD: The photography exhibition “La Valise Mexicaine” (The Mexican Suitcase), at the ICP, was for me one of the highlights of the past few years.  It is showing in Paris right now. It is an extremely moving collection of photographs taken during the Spanish War and found a few years ago in Mexico.

Another one of my favorites is the exhibition “La Chair et le Marbre” (Flesh and Marble), at the Rodin Museum in Paris. Gathering several dozens of Rodin’s most beautiful and sometimes forgotten works, the exhibition also pays a tribute to Rodin’s assistants who helped in the creation of those sculptures.