“art market”

Thaddaeus Ropac: “I’m more curious to see what is happening far from us”

It’s no small event… Thaddaeus Ropac is opening a fifth gallery, this time in London. The gallerist here explains his enthusiasm for the British capital, considers the Brexit, and expands on his exhibition policy… A full agenda ahead. The new branch of the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, in London – following the trail of Kamel Mennour who also settled in the city last October –, will be opening to the public on 28 April. The gallery will be located in an 18th century former residence at the heart of the historic Mayfair district. The ground-floor and first-floor spaces of the new venue will be inaugurated with an exhibition of historic photographs and video sculptures by Gilbert & George, a selection of American minimal-art works from the Marzona collection, as well as drawings from the 1950s and 1960s. A sculpture by Joseph Beuys will also be presented, along with a new performance and recent sculptures by Oliver Beer. Explanations follow. You’re opening a new gallery in London next spring. What is the main reason for this choice? Opening in London is in line with the way the gallery is moving forward. We represent many artists, and I think that we’re capable of running several galleries at the same time. It’s very exciting. We can put on more exhibitions and show more art. We’re trying to reach out to an even greater public with the exhibitions that we hold. This follows our gallery’s logic. I’m a staunch European, as I always say. So my principle has been to set up within the European context and of course, England was so much part of this. I didn’t want to go to the United States or China or anywhere else. There aren’t many cities in Europe that have quite as great an impact on the visibility of art...

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Memorabilia, the great revival?

For several years now, auction sales related to pop culture have flourished. From French music to video games via the Star Wars saga, auction houses have been exploring new segments. A panorama of these wide-appeal niches. Mylène Farmer’s military jacket, Maurice Chevalier’s boater, a childhood videogame or the robot R2-D2, the pipe smoked by singer Georges Brassens… The list of fetish objects from what is known as “pop culture” is long… and sells well! Once reserved to an obscure minority of underground collectors, for several years in France now, the purchase of memorabilia from childhood, the stars of music, film or television, has been transposed to auctions. So is this an auction-house strategy to reconquer market shares? Or is there a genuine demand for these objects? In any case, this new category of memorabilia is gaining more and more fans. Of course, it’s not new for these astonishing relics to exercise a power of fascination. In the 1970s, MGM studios would auction off objects from every category in their possession, including over 350,000 costumes. “Marilyn Monroe dresses and Elvis clothing articles were sold for around $1,000,” explained, in 2011, Darren Julien, founder of the auction house Julien’s Auctions, to Alex Ritman from the website theNational.ae. Around a decade later, in about 1980, Drouot in France began holding auction sales of the personal belongings of Claude François or Édith Piaf. But what is surprising these days is the sudden recurrence, ever since the start of the 2010s, of sales focusing on popular culture: French music, videogames, Star Wars… Is this the emergence of a new market? Culture geek icons In Paris, the auction house Millon & Associés has set up a specific department for pop culture, directed by Alexis Jacquemard. “It was a matter of opening up to a new...

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Data: Rauschenberg, auctions lagging behind?

Robert Rauschenberg, the rebel; Robert Rauschenberg, the die-hard experimenter. This man who worked in “the gap between art and life” and who contributed to the emergence of the concept of the “visual artist”, would leave his mark on the history of art in the second half of the 20th century. But has the market followed him? Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg was born on 22 October 1925 in Port Arthur, in Texas oil country. His parents, fervent Protestants, had limited means. He had a German physician grandfather who fell in love with a Cherokee Indian. At the age of sixteen, young Rauschenberg started studying pharmacy at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1943, he signed up with the US army and joined the Navy Hospital Corps in San Diego, California. Upon his discharge in 1945, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute before setting off for the Académie Julian in Paris. This is where he met Susan Weil, with whom he would have a son. Rauschenberg continued his studies at Black Mountain College (North Carolina), where he met Josef Albers. A stint at New York and the Art Students League, alongside Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil, gave him the opportunity to meet Knox Martin and Cy Twombly. 1952 marked a turning point in his career. While he was still a student at Black Mountain College, he took part, with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, pianist David Tudor and Jay Watt, in the Untitled Event, also known as Theatre Piece N°.1, often referred to as the first happening by historians. In the same year, he travelled across Europe and North Africa with his lover Cy Twombly. At the start of the 1950s when the United States was under the thrall of abstract expressionism, Robert Rauschenberg had already started to incorporate...

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Data: Picabia, nihilism and humour at auctions

A painter with talent, cheekiness and an eventful life… Francis Picabia marked the 20th century with the eclecticism of his painting and his significant contribution to French and American intellectual life. And what does the market make of him? Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia was born on 22 January 1879 in Paris. A single child born to parents representing Spanish aristocracy and French bourgeoisie, he grew up in a certain material comfort but was not spared from emotional affliction. He was seven when his mother died of tuberculosis, and he found himself stuck with his father, Juan Martinez Picabia, the Cuban consul in Paris, his bachelor uncle Maurice Davanne, a curator at the Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris, and his grandfather Alphonse Davanne, a wealthy businessman and enthusiastic amateur photographer who at one time was president of the Société Française de Photographie. In this universe that was possibly a little too virile, Francis escaped boredom by painting. In 1895, after school, he signed up at the École des Arts Décoratifs with Braque and Marie Laurencin as his teachers. In 1899, Francis Picabia joined the Salon des Artistes Français thanks to his painting Une Rue aux Martigues. At the start of the 20th century, his painting owed a great deal to impressionism. He showed at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants, but also in galleries such as that of Berthe Weill or at the Galerie Haussmann. His paintings sold well. In 1908, Francis Picabia met Gabrielle Buffet, a young avant-garde musician who encouraged him to continue his research. Supported by his personal fortune, he gradually shook off his ties with his synthetic style and his dealers to trace a path through the 20th century’s “isms”: fauvism, futurism, cubism and orphism. His style stretched in all directions and adapted itself to every constraint, every manifesto. Some of his...

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Data: Robert Mapplethorpe, a stabilising market

The market of this “sculptor-painter”, whose auction prices are still affordable, is currently stabilising, even if great disparities exist. A market that still tends to be dominated by the United States… Robert Mapplethorpe was born on 4 November 1946 in New York State, into an English-Irish Catholic family. He was the third of six children. He spent his childhood in Floral Park, Queens (New York) where he attended Our Lady of the Snows. “I was a Catholic boy, I went to church every Sunday. A church has a certain magic and mystery for a child. It still shows in how I arrange things” (Deborah A. Levinson, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Extraordinary Vision). In 1963, Robert Mapplethorpe enrolled in Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. First — and primarily to please his father — he studied graphic arts. Bad choice. He dropped out two years later and it was then that he turned his attention the visual arts — drawing, painting, sculpture. He began making surrealist collages, in tandem with his discovery of cannabis and LSD. He met Patti Smith, and they became friends — following a short tryst. At this time, Robert Mapplethorpe was largely marked by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell: he continued to practise collage, but also made boxes, installations and altar pieces, influenced by his Catholic childhood but also by black magic. At the end of the 1960s, Robert Mapplethorpe became fascinated by the New York avant-garde. He namely frequented the clubs near Union Square, such as Max’s Kansas City or CBGB, where Factory members tended to congregate: Andy Warhol himself, but also Gerard Malanga and Candy Darling. According to Patti Smith, it was only at the start of the 1970s that Robert Mapplethorpe started photography. His interest in the medium is inseparable from his visits to the Metropolitan Museum (New York), when John...

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