In Paris + by Art Basel, an international effervescence

“It’s an exceptional start! » Gallery owner Yves Zlotowski rubbed his hands on Wednesday after the first day of the contemporary art fair “Paris +, by Art Basel”. Within hours, he had sold seven works, including to American and Chinese collectors “never seen before”. A statement confirmed by the very international crowd that thronged the aisles of the ephemeral Grand Palais, metro style at rush hour, sneakers and chic outfits to boot.

Expectations were high for this first edition piloted by the Swiss group MCH, owner of the Art Basel fairs in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong, after the eviction last January of the RX group (2) which had been piloting the International Art Fair for years. contemporary art (Fiac) in Paris, now renamed “Paris +, by Art Basel”. By signing a seven-year contract with the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais (RMN-GP), Marc Spiegler, the director of Art Basel, had undertaken to maintain a presence of French galleries at around 30%.

Deal. Despite a record influx of 729 applications – almost twice as many as for the Fiac – the selection committees selected 48 galleries whose parent company is French, out of the 156 exhibitors from thirty countries, including all the heavyweights of the market. . But if we only consider the sector of the sixteen emerging galleries, given pride of place in the center of the ephemeral Grand Palais, the proportion of French galleries drops to four, or 25%.

Slight increase in stand prices

“Our arrival aroused fears, even a certain emotion as to the preservation of the identity and the specifically Parisian character of the fair. We have dissipated them by also forging partnerships with many French institutions”underlined Marc Spiegler, the day before the opening.

The exhibitions of the fair in the Tuileries gardens and the Delacroix Museum, attached to the Louvre, and on the Place Vendôme were maintained and extended to the chapel of the École des beaux-arts. Waiting for other sites “beyond the hypercentre of the capital during the next editions”promises Clément Delépine, director of Paris +, by Art Basel.

At the head of the Professional Committee of Art Galleries, Marion Papillon has also obtained that Paris + distributes a plan and the program of the 147 galleries participating all week in the operation “A Sunday at the gallery”, hoping to be able to attract collectors… Partnerships have been forged with the Vuitton Foundation (which exhibits its bags signed by artists at the entrance to Paris +) and especially with the Lafayette Anticipations Foundation, which will produce a work by an artist selected in the sector ” emergent” and will reimburse the stand of his gallery.

The new ephemeral Grand Palais concession at Art Basel was accompanied by a 30% increase, compared to the “negotiated rate” from which the Fiac benefited. As a result, stand prices at Paris + have increased by 6%. “Additional services for fitting out stands have experienced stronger increases”says Marion Papillon.

In return, the Swiss group asserts its international power, which enables it to attract collectors from all over the planet to Paris. Judging by the first purchases made at the opening, these flocked to Paris as never before, from North and South America but also from Asia, a week after the Frieze fair in London, already marked by a great dynamism.

Record sales at David Zwirner

As of Wednesday, gallery owner David Zwirner announced that he had sold works for a total “of 11 million dollars (11.22 million euros), amounts that we could never have reached here, in Paris, in the past”. The highlight of its stand, a painting by Joan Mitchell, currently featured at the Vuitton Foundation, flew away for 4.5 million dollars (4.59 million euros) in a private collection.

The Loevenbruck gallery for its part sold a painting by Gilles Aillaud (whose work will soon be exhibited at the Center Pompidou), a sculpture by the Franco-English duo Dewar and Gicquel, and, to a Korean collection, a large painting by transgender artist Ashley Hans Scheirl, exhibited at the last Venice Biennale. Same euphoria in Jérôme Poggi’s stand, with more than ten sales and a serious offer for a painting by Edvard Munch, offered at 2.4 million euros.

Very trendy in the current market, works by African or diaspora artists – with black bodies more present than ever on the picture rails – have also been a hit. On Wednesday, the solo shows of the Beninese Romeo Mivekannin at Cécile Fakhoury and the Congolese Hilary Balu at Magnin-A were already showing “sold out” or almost. This buying frenzy also reached the Foksal gallery in Warsaw, around the colorful patchworks of the Roma artist Malgorzata Mirga-Tas, sensation of the last Venice Biennale, all sold between 30,000 and 35,000 €.

French artists more erased and “main stream” selection

And the artists of the French scene? “The real issue is hereacknowledges gallery owner Georges-Philippe Vallois. In a market marked by increased financialization, in search of increasingly young artists, the French are not very present and absolutely need this global event that is Paris + to increase their influence. »

We regret in this respect that none of the 16 emerging galleries in Paris +, not even the four French ones, saw fit to honor an artist from the French scene. The non-selection of gallery owner Suzanne Tarasiève, pillar of the former Fiac, who nevertheless offered a solo show dedicated to the artist Eva Jospin, seems just as incomprehensible.

As for the French galleries present in Paris +, with the exception of some like Christophe Gaillard, Xippas, Ceysson-Bénétière or Applicat-Prazan, many “seem to have aligned themselves with a very international, ‘main stream’ offer”, notes the sociologist Alain Quemin, specialist in the art market. For him, Paris + offers “lots of large paintings and sculptures, very colorful, by American or German artists. French artists are much less visible, like Mimosa Échard, of which Chantal Crousel only shows a medium format”. Even though this artist has just won the Marcel-Duchamp prize.


In the “in” and the “off”

Site (s. Under the leadership of Annabelle Ténèze, 22 protest monuments are deployed in the Tuileries garden. Place Vendôme, the Eugène-Delacroix Museum, the chapel of the School of Fine Arts also host contemporary works.

Talks. Of “The future of the French art market? » until “Dandyism in the XXIe century ? » : Paris + organizes around ten debates at the Bal de la Marine, a barge at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Events. About fifteen other fairs are taking place until October 23 around Paris + including Asia Now at La Monnaie, Akaa centered on African art at Carreau du Temple and Paris Internationale in Nadar’s former studio, 35 boulevard des Capucines .

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