New contemporary art event gives a boost to Paris scene

1 min read

Paris is staking a claim to being a global centre for contemporary art sales with a revamped fair that hopes to woo more international buyers and build on the attraction of the city’s rich cultural legacy.

The event, “Paris+ par Art Basel”, was awarded to Art Basel, one of the giants in the art world, which hosts fairs in Switzerland as well as Miami and Hong Kong.

Organisers and gallery owners are expressing optimism for bumper sales – especially as the in-person art scene reawakens after the coronavirus pandemic and social media has provided greater virtual marketing opportunities.

Pieces by Pablo Picasso, Tom Wesselmann, Henri Matisse, Joan Mitchell, Edvard Munch and more recent works by artists such as Tschabalala Self, Maxwell Alexandre and Sung Tieu are on display. They range in price from 1,000 to 30 million euros.

“We represent all parts of the market, with unprecedented quality. The galleries bring their major works because they know that they will attract collectors,” Clement Delepine, director of the event, told Reuters at Wednesday’s preview, ahead of Thursday’s public opening.

Contemporary art, dating from 1945 onwards, made up 23% of the art market in 2020-2021, compared with 3% in 2000-2001, according to the Artprice data bank. Some 102,000 contemporary works were sold at auction between July 2021 and June 2021 for a total of $2.7 billion, it said.

The Paris event replaces the International Contemporary Art Fair (Fiac) and follows the high-profile Frieze fair in London. It is taking place at the Grand Palais Ephémère, beside the Eiffel Tower, with 156 galleries from 30 countries.

Frieze, which also has events in New York and Los Angeles, hosted first edition in Asia last month, in Seoul, reflecting growing interest among millennials, who often see art as an investment as well as a favourable tax regime in South Korea.

“If I was an American, I would come to Paris,” he said, citing the attraction of cultural institutions such as the Cartier Foundation, the Pompidou Centre and the Orsay Museum.

Renewed interest in Paris, which benefited from the uncertainties around Brexit affecting London’s art market, has led to the opening of numerous new galleries in the city.

Peter Kilchmann, whose gallery in Zurich spotlights Swiss and Latin American artists, has just opened a space in the Marais area of Paris.

“Paris is the only big city on the continent, so it’s the most important city for contemporary art, so it was also clear that I would do it here and I love Paris,” Klichmann told Reuters. (Via Reuters)

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