“art market”

FIAC 2017, elevating the fair to a fine art

Four days, 29 countries invited, 192 galleries and at least 70,000 visitors expected… Unfolding its 44th edition, the FIAC stands out, once again, as the major cultural event of this back-to-school period with the City of Light reflecting bright contemporary rays. FIAC lux! Has the FIAC finally hit on the right formula? After years of hesitations and oscillations between programme strategies as diverse as they’ve been varied, the event now seems to have found a recipe that suits not only the general public, but also collectors, art critics… and even professionals. All the while reconciling artistic quality and broad accessibility. Like every year, the event’s epicentre is under the nave of the Grand Palais, where the General section is on show, gathering the most prestigious galleries on the contemporary-art market. Namely one hundred or so brands, both French and international names, in a proportion which seems to be the norm for events of this type: one-quarter are locals, the others hail from overseas. But does the distinction make much of a difference these days in the upper-market sector, where Parisian boutiques look much like those in San Francisco? In total, two-thirds of the galleries present are European in origin, which at least serves as a reminder of the discreet yet weighty role played by the EU on the world stage of the art market. This year, the selection committee for exhibitors was composed of eight specialists, namely Olivier Antoine, Gisela Capitain, Mark Dickenson, David Fleiss, Solène Guillier, Jan Mot, Emmanuel Perrotin and Christophe Van de Weghe. Out of the 192 participants, 40 galleries are taking part in the FIAC for the first time, and six new countries are making their debut: Egypt, Kosovo, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Tunisia. The cream of international galleries And then there are the faithful....

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Interview: Jennifer Flay

At this 44th edition of the FIAC, director Jennifer Flay is presenting 192 galleries. On top of its many stands, the fair is developing through its outdoor installations, scattered across the Jardins des Tuileries up to the Place Vendôme, as well as a performance festival. An interview. For this big yearly contemporary-art parade, once again, the fair’s boss hasn’t done things by halves. Voguish aesthetics and art-business rhetoric… Jennifer Flay is leading the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain – along with its paintings, sculptures, performances, installations – towards new summits. Namely with a staunch desire to anchor contemporary art more solidly in the Parisian space. The aim? To make this exciting event, held between Art Basel in June, and Miami Beach in December, one of the most stylish musts on planet Art.   This year, the fair is welcoming 40 new exhibitors – that’s quite a number! No, not really if we think back to the FIAC’s big overhaul period when I arrived in 2004, when we’d go up to 60 new galleries a year. Forty is a figure that has popped up quite naturally in the last few years. The new exhibitors are mainly young brands – including galleries in the Lafayette section, whose goal is to support emerging players – as well as design galleries who we’re delighted to bring back this year. This figure also demonstrates a certain stability: today, the FIAC is in the midst of a consolidation and stepping-up phase. Our event needs to be fresh and progressive – something that comes out especially through its state of mind. Last year, our big achievement was to close Avenue Winston-Churchill and to open up the sector to the Petit Palais, hence offering a new geography for the FIAC, but also for Paris.   In market terms,...

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Data: Hockney or brazen youth

After the Tate in London, and prior to the MoMA in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday. Landscapes, portraits and drawings show the incredible vitality of this British painter, the author of a dense, colourful, polymorphous body of work that is more sought after than ever – as figures show. A thin silhouette in front of a monumental work, David Hockney poses before The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire, a 2011 painting that the Briton recently donated to the Centre Pompidou. It’s Tuesday 27 September, and the 80-year-old artist, donning a cap as always, has a green cardigan and a raspberry-coloured tie… The painter has a knack for matching colours. He’s smiling of course. He also makes jokes, it’s almost a habit for him. Hockney, we all know, is good-natured. This donation marks the retrospective that the Beaubourg in Paris is devoting to the artist until 23 October. No less than the most spectacular retrospective, in the painter’s opinion, for visitors can see, the artist confided in July 2017 to Éric Dahan for the magazine Vanity Fair, “one hundred and sixty works including my biggest painting, currently conserved in Australia – Bigger Trees Near Warter ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel âge post-photographique –, as well as small paintings from my youth that I painted in Bradford sixty years ago.” This donation also enriches a French collection that has left little room for the pop artist. But can we reduce, to this adjective alone, the work of this Briton who can be considered the spiritual son born of the Picasso-Matisse union, this master illustrator and genius of colours, this artist who championed hyperrealism at a period when abstract expressionism was the only path to salvation in painting? “Abstraction dominated everything...

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Archaeology and tribal art: transactions under pressure

Stratospheric-level auctions, overheated prices… The market for archaeological and tribal pieces is booming! We retrace the phenomenon of star status for these highly coveted objects. An issue that we examine by seeing what dealers, collectors and members of the scientific community have to say… Ever since the start of the 2000s, the tribal-art market has literally exploded, with its turnover jumping up from €13.7 million in 2001 to €92.1 in 2014. Despite this strong growth, tribal art remains a marginal market, which represents only 0.68 % of the global turnover of art auction sales, in other words, 40 times less than the proportion occupied by modern art, according to a report published by Artkhade, Art Media Agency and Art Analytics in December 2015. Largely in front, Africa and Oceania leave other geographical zones behind in the shadows. Between 2000 and 2014, these two continents represented 64.8 % of lots offered at auctions and 81 % of the sector’s total sales proceeds. Above all, the market’s growth has been accompanied by a multiplication of auctions raising millions of euros in sales rooms. In 2014 alone, fourteen lots went over the million-euro mark, yielding a total of €39 million, in other words 42 % of the yearly turnover of the tribal market at auctions. “The market turned around when the first major public sales were held, first the sale of the Hubert Goldet collection in 2001, then above all the Vérité sale in Paris in 2006 [editorial note: which totalled €44 million at Drouot]. A spectacular sale, on the media and marketing front as well,” explains Didier Claes, African arts specialist. “This was the first time that African objects reached such records, including a Fang mask which went for €5 million. This was an important milestone for the acceptance of this...

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The Old Masters market

Between a reality often distorted by figures, and the legendary discretion of art dealing, it’s difficult to grasp the health of the Old Masters market. While the July sales in London struck it lucky, where does the Old Masters segment really stand? An investigation. The market is a drama… nourished by signs and symbols. Every year, it is played out, once again, according to a perfectly rehearsed staging, by big auction sessions, report publications and grand dinner occasions. According to whether prices are up or down, whether interest rates flash green or red lights, we scream bloody murder or else murmur congratulations at fairs, all the while speculating on art-market bubbles. In the meantime, the media monitors the scene, rushing to spread news on the latest favourites on the stage of this worldly theatre. According to dealer Arnaud De Jonckheere, “these figures conceal the reality”. Figures, in fact, reflect auctions and reports. They are indicators that are necessary for objectivising a market which begs for analysis and commentary. The problem is that these curves are today largely indexed on a few records that bring joy to major auction houses, with an inclination towards sourcing out new works. Meanwhile, reports rely on resources that are necessarily incomplete, often data on the dealing world, dependent on the goodwill of professional syndicates. Hence a bothersome dialectic: figures and reports hide as much as they reveal. The paradox comes to the fore all the more in a world marked by secrecy, as remarks Bertrand Gautier, from gallery Talabardon & Gautier: “We used to be a profession based on a certain notion of secrecy, and we remain discreet people. But in the last ten years, the profession has changed in colossal proportions.” How exactly, we might very well ask. A globally stable market The...

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