Emily in Paris+
There’s a Paris+ by Art Basel effect just like there’s an Emily in Paris effect. In the entertainment world, the sentimental and irreverent TV show has brought about a renewal of mass tourism to the French capital and we might think that, by the same token, the choice made by the Swiss organizers of Art Basel to open a new fair/outpost in France last year has created a hyper-effect of global emulation in the field of current artistic creation.
This year the show is still being squeezed into the Grand Palais éphémère, from 20 to 22 October, with 154 participants, before it is due to re-enter the beautiful space of the real, renovated Grand Palais in 2024 (See here the report about the Paris +2022). Its director Clément Delépine observes: “this year we have participation from galleries at an exceptional level. They are drawing in an unprecedented audience in France.” He tempers this euphoric statement with another about the difficult context.
Anchored to reality
“Of course the art market is anchored in reality. We have witnessed the collapse of cryptocurrencies, the rise of inflation, the price of raw materials, the war in Ukraine… These are important factors, but the art market up until now has shown itself to be resilient.”
The importance of a fair can also be measured by the impact it has on the place where it is held.
Modern Art by Stuart Shave
In Paris itself, various foreign galleries have opened at around the same time of the opening of Paris+. This is the case for example of the British gallery Modern Art by Stuart Shave, which is accessible by appointment in a vast apartment at the Place de l’Alma. It oversees a roster of 38 artists, some of whom are very in demand, such as the Iraqi artist Mohammed Sami (born in 1984).
The model of the modest gallery
This figurative painter has seen one of his canvases, which as ever addresses war and buried memories, sold in London on 12 October for 646,500 euros. “I believe in the model of relatively modest galleries that maintain a relationship of loyalty to their artists and collectors,” explains Stuart Shave, who is combating the speculation targeting his artists: “We are trying to present reasonable prices that remain accessible for museums, between 15,000 and 400,000 pounds maximum.”
One of the highly anticipated arrivals in the French capital is the Swiss-origin gallery Hauser & Wirth. It has just opened an 800m2 space in Paris on the Avenue François 1er. It already has fifteen spaces around the world and represents 116 artists. A colossus on the scale of new global ambitions in contemporary art. The excellent inaugural exhibition is dedicated to the African American artist Henry Taylor (born in 1958) who spent all summer in Paris preparing for his show (See here an interview of Henry Taylor in Venice, during the Bienniale).
He is also currently the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York. His figurative canvases made up of a skilful and colourful assemblage of images that may have been inspired by art history, various photos or souvenirs, are on sale for on average 750,000 dollars.
This is the case, for example, of the large-format piece with the Louvre in the foreground in front of which Josephine Baker is kneeling in profile, taken from a photo of the American singer. The record price for Taylor at auction goes up to 2.3 million euros, obtained in May 2023.
Iwan Wirth, Hauser &Wirth
“Paris is where artists truly want to exhibit,” explains Iwan Wirth, co-founder of the gallery. As for the difficult context, he replies: “I’ve been in this field for 30 years. I have confidence in the market in the long term. We are continuing to see such a strong interest in our artists such as Henry Taylor. I’m sure that corrections will be made in the median market, for galleries with major costs without the corresponding revenue.” (See here an other interview of Iwan Wirth)
Marc Glimcher, Pace gallery
Marc Glimcher is president of another multinational gallery of American origin, Pace (See here an interview of the founder of the Gallery, Arne Glimcher about Louise Nevelson). He reveals that he has been looking for a place to open premises in Paris for some time. “Nowadays people’s hearts are turning towards beauty, history. Paris represents that, as the city of romance par excellence.” In the meantime, he is presenting a booth at Paris+ with a tribute to Mark Rothko, who has been represented by Pace in 1978. This genius painter is the subject of an exceptional retrospective right now at the Fondation Louis Vuitton (See here the report about the Rothko show).
Pace’s space at the fair contains two Rothko paintings, including one work on paper from 1968 (on sale for around 8 million dollars), one painting from the 1950s (on sale for 40 million dollars), as well as a number of tributes like Robert Longo, with a spectacular view of the Mediterranean sea in charcoal (on sale for 550,000 dollars) (See here an interview of Robert Longo).
The diagnosis of the head of Pace with regards to a foreseeable crisis is clear: “yes, we are living through a turbulent period. But we have also witnessed an exceptional acceleration of activity in the art market. Today I perhaps have 200 clients who are spending at least a million dollars on a single artwork. The adjustment of falling prices will take place in the future and it will affect artist who are starting out in their careers.”
The Brazilian Mendes-Wood gallery, which also has galleries in the United States and Brussels, has also inaugurated a space in the Place des Vosges in Paris on 15 October with a group exhibition featuring one of their star artists, the Brazilian Paulo Nazareth (born in 1977) who lives in a favela in Belo Horizonte.
He documents his travels around the world, most often on foot. Then his videos, photos and installations, which are very autobiographical, tell the story. His works, which have been integrated into institutional collections in places like Moma and the Pinault collection, are on sale for between 15,000 and 100,000 dollars.
One of the artists to look out for at Paris+ is the Chinese artist who lives in Tokyo, Lu Yang (born in 1984), presented by the Bank gallery from Shanghai. Having received particular coverage by European institutions, she was exhibited in Venice, Berlin, Basel and was named artist of the year by Deutsche Bank in 2023. She is the heroine of her 3D digital videos in which she features as an avatar evolving in a dystopian world. In Paris+, in a run of six copies, they are on sale for between 35,000 and 85,000 dollars.
Last year, during Paris+, the Parisian gallery Jérôme Poggi presented three genius canvases by the modern Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. He sold one for 2.3 million euros. This year he is opening, right opposite the Centre Pompidou and in the place of a small supermarket, a gallery across 600m2. For the opening he has staged an exhibition on the subject of stones in art, featuring a wide range of artworks spanning prehistory to the present day (on sale for between 2000 and 800,000 euros) .
In star place: a set of pieces by the Norwegian artist Ana-Eva Bergman (1909-1987) who moved towards abstraction in the 1950s, starting with the depiction of pebbles. She is the subject of an exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris until July 2023. Her drawings are on sale starting at 40,000 euros. “We needed to expand, and it’s the right time now that Paris is flourishing in terms of art,” justifies Jérôme Poggi. (See here an interview of Jérome Poggi about Anna Eva Bergman).
The organizers of Paris+ are perpetuating, of course, the presence of contemporary art in the city. One of the most spectacular interventions is that of the Swiss artist who lives in Los Angeles Urs Fischer (born in 1973). At the Place Vendôme he has created an indeterminate mega-form made out of aluminium that gleams in the sunlight, entitled “Wave”, measuring 7.6 metres long.
He moulded a piece of clay to achieve what might resemble a film still of a tidal wave. “The record of a movement of sorts,” which he has reproduced on a gigantic scale. The work has been placed opposite the Vendôme column until 30 November by Gagosian gallery. It is apparently on sale for 6 million dollars (See here an other interview of Urs Fischer).
Since the opening of Paris+ the aisles were full and major sales were recorded at influential galleries such as Pace and Zwirner.
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