what the new Paris+ fair, which starts on Thursday, promises

07:00, October 19, 2022

Just nine months. It was the time that Art Basel, the name of the largest contemporary art fair in the world, which takes place in Basel (Switzerland) in June, and its parent company, MCH, gave rise to a “show” in Paris. An event scheduled on the dates that Fiac, the International Contemporary Art Fair, usually took place. Next week, from the 20th to the 23rd of October, Paris+ by Art Basel will be held at the ephemeral Grand Palais, on the Champ-de-Mars (entry €40).

RMN-GP, Réunion des musées nationalaux-Grand Palais, rocked the art world at the end of 2021 by issuing a public notice for the October vacancy, previously renewed smoothly for Fiac. This one, launched in 1974, has managed to attract major international galleries over the years. But it was Art Basel that won in late January 2022, signing a seven-year lease.

“Historical Change”

“It’s a historic change.explains Christophe Rioux, professor specializing in cultural and creative industries at Sciences-Po. Art Basel adds a new city to your global journey. On a global scale, a duopoly emerges, with MCH on one side and the Endeavor group, which runs the powerful Frieze London fair. [qui s’est déroulée la semaine dernière] the other. » For Paris, it’s “good news, Judge Frédéric Jousset, co-founder of Webhelp and creator of the Art Explora Foundation. This is proof of its renewed attractiveness. But also an effect of ships communicating with London, which suffers from the withdrawal signal sent by Brexit. »

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However, there is no doubt another version of the Swiss fair, as in Miami (in December) and Hong Kong (in March). In the French capital, it will be Paris+, not a ” copy paste “. But what else does this new fair promise? A revolution ? “We are conducting a break of continuity, nuance Clément Delépine, director of Paris+. We depend on a story. The selection committee for the candidate galleries for the ephemeral Grand Palais was thus renewed by only a third. » The number of exhibitors (156 galleries) did not increase. The number of Parisian or foreign galleries with a branch in the capital is high: more than 60. The 16 galleries that present emerging artists will no longer be relegated to the annex, but placed in the heart of the reactor, in the midst of the ephemeral Grand Palais and its expansion.

“The average visitor might not see much difference for this first edition, says Christophe Rioux, but there are changes in depth. » Gallerists pay a little more, around 100,000 euros for a large booth. But they expect a higher quality of service, especially from operators building their “white cubes”. And above all, the arrival of curators of international exhibitions (who are prescribers) and potential customers eager to discover and buy their most beautiful pieces…

VIPs to hug

For Belgian collector and investment banker Alain Servais, who plans to spend five intense days this week in Paris, “Art should have a prominent place, which was no longer the case. For this, the quality of the selection of galleries and also the service must be priorities again. A collector comes to visit a fair for six to eight hours. What counts in your eyes are the galleries’ proposals but also the organization, reception and even catering. [la restauration]. An art fair is not a mall! Collectors need to be in a good frame of mind, and that takes more than fawning over them. »

There is a very visible rebirth of the Parisian square, a light over the city, an energy that is felt

Art Basel has a group of “VIP representatives” throughout the year, “representatives” of wealthy clients: more than thirty specialists, including advisors and ambassadors of the fair, in contact with identified collectors around the world and in search of new buyers, thirty-something years ahead of start-ups, for example. These “very important people” are entitled to special treatment: early and quiet access to the fair, guided tours of museums without other visitors… Small dishes for big ones (in the literal sense too). “We are not far from luxury concierge service, says Christophe Rioux. Art Basel has a very refined know-how in this area. »

The MCH teams also want to create an artistic “context” that adds to the many Parisian proposals, those of the great museums, the very recent art foundations and those of the new international galleries (such as Hauser and Wirth in the 8th, in early 2023). “There is a very visible renovation of the Parisian square, a light over the city, an energy that can be felt”, enthuses gallery owner Kamel Mennour. He even organizes a daring trip between his four galleries centered on a Symbolist painter, Eugène Carrière (1849-1906).

Works in Paris

The presentations of works of art in Paris are held in the same locations as the Fiac, to which is added the chapel of the École des beaux-arts. The Polish Alicja Kwade, for example, will install planets and concrete stairs in Place Vendôme, evoking the designs of Maurits Escher. In the Tuileries, the usual venue for open-air exhibitions, an artistic curator was responsible for the first time to select the works. A joint will of Laurence des Cars, president of the Louvre, and Clément Delépine.

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Annabelle Ténèze, director of the art center Les Abattoirs de Toulouse, chose a theme, “the rest of the story”, ” inside [se] asking what we put in this garden, place of power, ecosystem and popular place, and passage”. In particular, she chose a colorful column, the Blue Obelisk by Niki de Saint Phalle, “the first female artist to have installed works in public space of this scale, with the idea of ​​sharing”. Likewise, “in this garden full of sculptures that we often don’t look at”Annabelle Teneze “I wanted to show references to the history of art”like these carved and inverted lions, or The Wedding at CanaVeronese’s masterpiece revisited by the Beninese Roméo Mivekannin.

Less spectacular, the “conversations” with international artists, intellectuals and critics will take place on a boat, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. “It will be in good condition, not in a bad-sounding corner of the Grand Palais, believes Alain Servais. And the themes are interesting, in the French art market or in the issue of dandyism in the 21st century. It may seem like a detail, but it’s the Art Basel touch. »

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