“A comprehensive panorama of disciplines, from painting to video to design and photography, Art Paris was last year the only fair in the world to reopen its doors,” proudly recalls Guillaume Piens, the general curator. This year, another first, the event will inaugurate the Grand Palais Éphémère, a building designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. At the foot of the Champ de Mars and a straight shot from the Eiffel Tower, this exceptional venue guarantees the prestige of the events hosted there during the renovation of the Grand Palais. “Admittedly, it is 25% smaller, its opaque vault is 52 feet tall, which makes the works more visible,” notes the curator.
Since 2011, Guillaume Piens has spearheaded the revival of Art Paris, an event he sums up as “regionalist/cosmopolitan.” This orientation points to a strong presence of French – both Parisian and France-wide – as well as European galleries… This specificity is an asset during a health crisis when travel is restricted. Nevertheless, we note the presence of a few galleries from Asia, Africa, and South America. “There will probably be few foreign visitors from remote locations, but this is not what defines the fair’s identity. Over two-thirds of our visitors have always been French or European.” As an added proof that this formula works, this year marks either first-time participation or the return of such prestigious galleries as Lelong & Co., Kamel Mennour, and Almine Rech.
For the fourth consecutive time, the fair will feature a focus on the French scene, entrusted this year to the independent curator Hervé Mikaeloff. Also an advisor to private and corporate collectors in France and abroad, Mikaeloff has handpicked twenty artists represented by as many galleries. The common theme is “Portrait and Representation.” Although the works are paintings, some show close ties to photography either through their framing or their realism, for example Arnaud Adami (H Gallery), Rose Barberat (Galerie Pact), and Marjane Satrapi (Galerie Françoise Livinec).
True to its identity, Art Paris spotlights discovery once again. “ ‘Art Paris is a passion fair.’ Our visitors are motivated by pleasure shopping as opposed to speculation. The fair aims to be accessible, both in terms of pricing and visitor reception. New collectors are welcome,” emphasizes Guillaume Piens. And so, the Promises sector highlights galleries that are less than six years old. Among the nine presented, the Guatemalan Rebelde Gallery is showing photographic collages by JJ Estrada T.
“The interest in emerging artists does not preclude the presence of big names, like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, both featured in solo shows, of which there are 26 this year. This allows visitors to delve deeper into the artist’s work.” Based exclusively on the photographic work by the father of Pop Art, the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Galerie Italienne is one of the highlights of the fair. It brings together a variety of techniques, both black and white and in color: there are Polaroids and photo booth strips, as well as sewn prints from Warhol’s last exhibition a few weeks before his death in 1987.
As usual, photography is very present at Art Paris. This makes sense, given that Guillaume Piens has previously directed Paris Photo. This is also due to the fact that transdisciplinary artists are more and more numerous in recent years. Our favorites of this 2021 edition: the French Laurence Aërgerter at Binome and Stephan Gladieu at School Gallery Olivier Castaing; the Spanish duo Albarrán Cabrera at Esther Woerdehoff; the Italian Salvatore Puglia at Sitdown; the Belgians Lucas Leffler at Intervalle and Saïdou Dicko at Afikaris.
By Sophie Bernard
Sophie Bernard is a journalist specialized in photography, contributor to La Gazette de Drouot and Le Quotidien de l’Art, exhibition curator, and instructor at the École de Photographie (EFET) in Paris.
Art Paris Art Fair, September 9 to 12, 2021. Grand Palais Éphémère. Plateau Joffre, 75007 Paris.