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Placing emphasis on discovery, which has always been a hallmark of this general-interest art fair, the 22nd installment of Art Paris breaks new ground with a virtual edition designed for the era of the coronavirus. The program features 150 modern and contemporary art galleries from twenty countries.

“After the initial shock and discouragement at the idea of a year’s work being lost, we decided to react and reinvent ourselves with a 100% digital edition,” says Guillaume Piens, general curator of Art Paris since 2011. Having postponed the fair from April to late May and considered putting it off till early July, the organizers of Art Paris finally agreed to hold it in 2021. However, upon reflection, a decision was taken to launch an online version, instead. 

Specific contents

The objective: to go further than previous online exhibitions which thus far were limited to “static” content, combining only texts and images, and therefore quickly boring... In a bold move, Art Paris invites visitors to experience the fair “as if they were there,” or just about. The key: 3D technology. As Guillaume Piens explained, “this technology promises visitors sensations that are as close as possible to the physical experience by recreating gallery installations (in the case of Parisian exhibitors) or simulating booths set up beneath the Grand Palais dome (in other cases).” The interactive mode is another highlight of the edition. Just one click will allow the visitors to learn more about the work, while another will put them directly in touch with the gallery.

Seasoned innovators, as evidenced by the website launched three years ago which sorts artworks by price range (from 5,000 to 10,000, from 10,000 to 15,000, and over 100,000 euros), Art Paris organizers have always strived to facilitate a dialogue between galleries and collectors, connoisseurs and neophytes alike. “Filters by price, as well as by medium, gallery, country, and even date of the works, are geared at those unaccustomed to approaching galleries and hesitant to ask about prices,” commented Guillaume Piens. 

With this in mind, and because the raison d’être of a fair is above all commercial, Art Paris has aimed to go further, establishing a partnership with the Artsy website. The international online art sales platform thus hosts a selection of recent works from the 2020 edition of Art Paris. “In concrete terms, the internet user can acquire works online,” explained Guillaume Piens. 


Art Paris Online Viewing, © Art Paris Art Fair 2020 / Artsy

True to its roots

Although its format has changed, Art Paris continues to uphold its identity while giving its latest edition a fresh focus. For the third consecutive year, the fair zooms in on the French art scene with an overview by the guest curator Gaël Charbau entitled “Common and Uncommon Stories.” The art critic has hand-picked twenty-two artists, including the photographers Elsa & Johanna (Galerie La Forest Divonne) who construct elaborate mises-en-scènes; Caroline Le Méhauté (H Gallery) who works with cyanotypes; and Léa Belooussovitch (Galerie Paris-Beijing) whose drawings on felt are based on news photos.

Following a focus on Latin America last year, the Iberian Peninsula is the art fair’s current guest of honor, presented by the independent exhibition curator Carolina Grau. There are a total of twenty-five galleries and over seventy artists representing the region, since many main-sector galleries have joined in to feature Spanish and Portuguese artists, like the Esther Woerdehoff Gallery which showcases the photographer Albarrán Cabrera. Lastly, there could be no Art Paris without the “Promises” sector—fourteen young galleries, including twelve newcomers, plus video programing dedicated to the Iberian Peninsula, and twenty-two solo shows.

Among some thousand artists on view in 2020, photographers occupy a special place: they include household names, like Roger Ballen (Caroline Smulders and Karsten Greve galleries), Valérie Belin (Nathalie Obadia), Liu Bolin (Paris-Beijing), Pierre et Gilles (Templon), Hassan Hajjaj (193 Gallery) as well as emerging artists, like Thomas Hauser (Un-Spaced), Charlotte Mano (Galerie XII), Edouard Taufenbach (Binome), and Andrea Torres (Alzueta Gallery)… See you on the other side of the screen!

Par Sophie Bernard 

Art Paris • Digital, opening May 27, 2020 at www.artsy.net

Art Paris • Live, opening May 28, 2020 at www.artparis.com/en 

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