The opening of Paris+ is hailed as a “Renaissance” for the city’s art market, but it won’t overtake its competitors overnight

“Renaissance” was a buzzword on the lips of international art that took place this week in the French capital, for the debut of Paris+ by Art Basel. The term applied to the revival of the Parisian art market, with the arrival of a major international competitor on the art fair circuit. IInside the Grand Palais Ephèmère, a temporary structure on the Champ de Mars, which will be used by Paris+ until 2025, while the principal Beaux-Arts masterpiece is being rebuilt, the champagne is flowing afloat and business is done.

But outside, and certainly among the supporters of FIAC, an ousted local fair, which previously occupied the current spot on the calendar, there were references to another period in French history. “Revolution” was in the air, especially as protests closed city boulevards, labor strikes canceled trains and a fuel crisis caused chaos at gas stations.

Some Paris+ exhibitors have even complained about the size of the stands, with the pop-up venue being smaller than the real Grand Palais. But there was plenty of good real estate for prime dealers. Hauser and Wirth, for example, had a prime location right at the entrance, where Princess Eugenie (a gallery employee) held court with collectors.

In another break from the normality of art fairs, luxury fashion brand (and cultural patron) Louis Vuitton had its own stand nearby, serving as a teaser for other fashion collaborations to come in the “more” of the Paris+ brand.

The VIP opening was a busy day from the start, as a large network of collectors, museum groups and curators attracted to the Art Basel brand arrived from 10am. Curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Beatrix Ruf have been spotted, as have Asian collectors like Hong Kong-based Alan Lo and Taiwan-based Rudy Tseng, as well as Europeans Patrizia and Eugenio Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

Paris+ by Art Basel 2022. Courtesy of Paris+ by Art Basel

The jostling in the aisles was so great that by midday the carpet at Gagosian’s stand looked a little threadbare, and queues for the champagne lounge and its view of the Eiffel Tower began to become a little too long to bear the wait.

Lots of people were crammed into the fair, but unlike Frieze London a week before, the consensus was that the caliber of attendees remained high. “If I had to sum it up in a formula, I would say that in London it is the socialites, the young people who spend more time in the aisles than in the stall,” Belgian collector Alain Servais told Artnet News. “Here I would say we have the left-wing Parisian intelligentsia, who may have fewer pockets, but who know a lot about art, which means the stands are extremely busy and the aisles less.”

For Parisian gallerist Kamel Mennour, the more international audience was welcome, and he was smiling from ear to ear when we met. He was particularly pleased with the increase in attendance from Americans, who may be more inclined to spend given the favorable dollar exchange rate. “We love Americans,” Mennour said, adding, “Write that down!”

Among the American contingent spotted were not only James Murdoch, majority shareholder of the fair’s parent company, MCH Group, but also LA collector Tracy O’Brien, Andy Warhol Foundation President Joel Wachs, New York collector Carol Server and artistic adviser Sandy Heller, as well as collecting heavyweights Pamela Joyner and Don and Mera Rubell.

The quality of the material on display was aimed at the same quality and many dealers had organized their stands to coincide with the exhibitions of the museums of the capital. Alice Neel and Joan Mitchell, who are the subject of major exhibitions at the Center Pompidou and the Louis Vuitton Foundation respectively, catch the eye at David Zwirner’s bustling booth.

Zwirner, who told Artnet News last week that “no one will remember FIAC” after Paris+, was quick to report $11 million in sales, adding that those are “certainly numbers that we don’t have not been able to reach here in Paris in the past”. The Mitchell on its stand sold for $4.5 million to a private collection, and the gallery also placed a $3 million work by Robert Ryman from a presentation held on the stand. (Pace Gallery’s early sales also included a Robert Ryman, this one a $900,000 oil on panel from 1970.)

Installation view of the Galerie Templon stand at Paris+.

The Templon gallery presented works by Kehinde Wiley, who also exhibits three monumental pieces in the nave of the Musée d’Orsay. The gallery sold a large painting by the artist for $880,000 at the end of the day as well as a sculpture for $275,000, as well as a work by Gérard Garouste, which is enjoying a retrospective at the Center Pompidou, for 95 000 €.. They also sold several works between €140,000 and €200,000 by Michael Ray Charles, who is included in the Quai Branly exhibition “Black Indian”.

We have never seen such excitement,” gallery director Anne-Claudie Coric told Artnet News, adding that the novelty of the new fair has been a big draw, although she underscored the enduring power of Paris as a hub of art. art. “We’re not a small town, we’ve always been an arts capital – the rest of the world just didn’t pay enough attention to it!”

Indeed, it seemed that those present at the fair were in the mood to buy. “We bought !” Proud London collector Paul Ettlinger told Artnet News before the fair opened, adding that he is now the proud owner of a Paul McCarthy wooden sculpture by Hauser and Wirth. The gallery quickly swapped the artwork being sold on the stand for another wooden sculpture by Paul McCarthy, which sold for $575,000 before the end of the day.

Hauser and Wirth, which has announced plans to open its own Paris outpost next year in a 19th-century mansion in the eighth arrondissement, also sold works by George Condo ($2.65 million), Rashid Johnson ($1 million) and Avery Singer ($800,000). Elsewhere, White Cube has sold two new paintings by Tracey Emin for £750,000 and £650,000, among others.

There were many comments that the fair resembled Art Basel, the veteran parent event in Switzerland. If a difference were to be felt, it would be in the pace of sales at the high end (slow). The LGDR gallery consortium booth was packed, with particular buzz around a beautifully hung Alexander Calder mobile, Black disc with flags. AAlthough Amalia Dayan reported “solid interest” from collectors at the opening, there was no movement on the artwork by the end of the first day. Sales made for the gallery included a work by Günther Uecker for $850,000 and a painting by Jenna Gribbon for $100,000.

Another key difference was a more exciting selection of younger galleries, perhaps aided by the inclusion of Paris+ by Celement Delépine, who ran FIAC’s more forward-thinking sister fair, Paris Internationale. The Rubells were shopping in the emerging galleries section, where 16 exhibitors had solo presentations.

Artnet News caught up with them at the Seventeen Gallery, inspecting the works of artist Patrick Goddard, a 20-minute surreal comedy film satirizing racist linguistic tropes, Whoopsie’s Dream (at a price of €17,000). The play was set in an installation thematically linked to the film, resembling model train dioramas (complete with moving trains and overrun by snails) that evoked nostalgic visions of 1960s England (priced at €10,000 ). “It’s the most intriguing thing we’ve seen so far,” Don said, before quickly buying up the entire booth.

Collector and gallery owner Arthur Villepin, who came from Hong Kong, was impressed by the crowds and the fact that Art Basel was able to “create this moment in a difficult market”. We caught up to Marianne Ibrahim’s stand, which was packed, and he pointed out the work of Yukimasa Ida, which he had recently added to his collection. By the end of the day, Ibrahim had also sold his stand, including a work by Raphael Barontini at €60,000, an Amoako Boafo at €375,000 and that of Peter Uka Skate (2022) for $95,000.

Installation view, Hauser & Wirth at Paris+ by Art Basel 2022. Courtesy the artists / estates and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Fabrice Gousset.

Despite the smiles all around and the comparisons to Art Basel, the sales reported on the first day didn’t quite bear the comparison. While Zwirner’s $4.5 million high certainly beat the highest first-day sale at FIAC last year, it hasn’t touched its high of $6 million hit last week at Frieze London, nor came close to fetching $12.5 million for a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. at Art Basel in June. Hauser and Wirth’s $2.65 condo sale also fell short of the $4.8 million announced by Guston in Frieze (or the $40 million that Bourgeois placed in Basel). At the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, conversations around the most valuable works on the stand were still going on at the end of the first day.

A skeptic might read signs of broader economic turmoil entering the walls of the art fair. Art consultant Mattia Pozzoni warned that the market could feel more pain after the November sales in New York, and New York consultant Nazy Nahand said she was already experiencing concerns among her clients, who had started to hesitate before making big purchases.

But slowing sales, particularly at the high end, have always been a theme in Paris, with some collectors pointing out how left it’s buying work on the stand without talking about it at length beforehand. Collectors generally took their time at FIAC in the past, and some fair attendees pointed out that simply changing a fair’s name would not change the approach of a city’s collector base of the day. on the next day.

For market veteran Simon de Pury, the fair was a good first attempt, which demonstrated a promising start for Art Basel in Paris. “It is clear that this is going to become the fair that could possibly be on the same level, or of a similar level, to Art Basel in Basel, and so in a way it is great to have Art Basel at the first semester and Art Basel Paris in the second half of the year,” he said. “And when they come back to the Grand Palais, I think it’s going to be even better because of the decor, which will be even more spectacular. “

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